Less than three weeks left before Halloween. It high time to prepare for the All-Saints-Day-celebration. There are over 50 different varieties of pumpkins that are available to gardeners.
If you go searching for seeds to grow, you could purchase varieties named: Casper, Baby Bear, Funny Face, Munchkin, Jumbo, Sweetie Pie, Little Boo or Autumn Gold, and that's just the beginning. Maybe Linus grew Atlantic Giants, which can reach over 1,000 pounds! Pumpkins can range in color from white to yellow to orange, can be round or flat, and can grow in miniature as well as gigantic.
Pumpkins are fruits and are members of the vine crop family called cucurbits. Originating in Central America, they were used by Native Americans for food and medicines; even woven into mats.
Early colonists used pumpkins to make pie crust, in addition to their version of pumpkin pie: cut the top off, pour milk, honey and spices into a pumpkin shell and place onto a bed of ashes. Not only can you eat the 'meat or fruit' of the pumpkin but you can eat the flowers and seeds too (after preparation). Additionally, pumpkins are low in calories, fat and sodium, high in fiber and are a great source of Vitamins A and B, potassium, protein and iron.
Pumpkins are used for a variety of purposes, but one of the most fun is Halloween carving. This tradition is thought to have begun with the Celts. They would carve gourds and turnips on the first day of Celtic Winter to welcome and honor the souls of deceased loved ones, while simultaneously protecting themselves against evils spirits. They lit the inside with a hot lump of coal. Today modern designs have become quite artistic; rarely do you see triangle eyes, nose and crooked mouth. Now we see ghosts, cats, cartoon characters and politicians among other creations. The only limit to carving is your imagination.
The Daily Press contributed to the report.