Pumpkin (Winter squash) – Jättikurpitsa
At Green city farm we select a traditional pumpkin variety that is suitable for food preparation. Other types of pumpkins have been selected for decorative attributes (an example being the Halloween jack o ´lantern types) or for their size which has become the base for competition (the world record weighing well over 1000kg). All pumpkins are edible, the varieties best suited for culinary use should have a thick layer of deep yellow or orange flesh and a rich flavor when cooked. They weigh from 5 to 30kg and contain numerous oval shaped seeds that can also be eaten.
Growing pumpkins is not difficult, they require a lot of space and sunshine, and benefit from rich manures and organic fertilizers. Pumpkins will grow vigorously directly from the compost heap. They take between 90 and 110 days to grow and soon after planting begin to produce long vines that may reach up to 5m in length and grow at their prime at about 10cm per day. Large yellow male flowers on narrow stems soon begin to appear, followed about a week later by even larger female flowers. Bees and insects abound around these flowers which soon become pollinated, and at the base of the female flower the pumpkin begins to expand. As the large leaves begin to dry and die back in early autumn the now large pumpkins become visible and begin to ripen. The skin or shell of the pumpkin hardens and often changes color indicating that the pumpkin is soon ready. The ripe pumpkins will not tolerate frost and must be protected or taken to shelter.
Good quality pumpkins are often large and difficult to handle, but do not let this put you off, it will be worth the effort. From one pumpkin you can prepare many different delicious dishes, toast the seeds, and finally use the shell to make an autumn lantern. Nutritionally pumpkins are excellent, containing a wide range of minerals, vitamins, and other complex nutrients essential in a heathy diet. If handled carefully and kept in a cool dry place a pumpkin can last from 6 to 8 weeks from harvest.