For some reason, I figured that since pumpkins (a variety of Cucurbita pepo or winter squash) abound in crisp fall stories and films, they’d naturally grow well in colder climates.Is there anything more autumnal than walking into your garden, the scent of turning leaves in the air, to pick a pumpkin for Halloween?In northerly climes like mine up in Alaska, we get maybe two and a half solid months of summer.Those of us in northerly climes – USDA Hardiness Zones 3-6 – should start seeds indoors in early April.In warmer climates (Zones 7-9), plant seeds directly in the soil once it hits 60°F.For more information on calculating the length of your local growing season, see our guide to planting seeds indoors versus direct sowing.This spooky, flickering decoration originated in Ireland, where people carved the faces of potatoes and turnips instead of winter squash.This perfect carving squash grows to a big but not overwhelming size of 10-20 pounds and matures to a rich orange color in 105 days.And perhaps the best thing about it is that you can scoop out the flesh and bake it into pie, if that’s your favorite fall dish, or muffins, which are mine.Or, try these amazing pumpkin spice pancakes from our sister site, Foodal, which taste like autumnal heaven when eaten with pure maple syrup and lightly toasted pecans.It obviously has a ways to go before it’s ready for Halloween, but I cannot wait to go into the garden with my son and harvest a massive, homegrown pumpkin to carve together.Incidentally, ‘Howden’ boasts a strong, thick, orange rind with a sweet meaty inside that you can use in baking, so it’s another wonderful dual-purpose pumpkin.Want to grow pumpkins for decoration, to create beautiful tablescapes or add a harvest feel to your front porch?My ‘Jack Be Little’ plant already has a tiny squash growing, and my son and I love watching it get bigger every day.They’re technically edible, but they’re so tiny you’re better off planting ‘Howden’ or another larger variety for the copious amount of flesh inside.For a ghostly pumpkin that brings to mind a plump harvest moon, choose ‘Lumina,’ a white variety that grows to 10 or 15 pounds.As an added bonus, that flesh can go straight into a tasty curry, like this one from our sister site, Foodal.If you’d rather not carve into your pumpkin but still want to decorate it, why not paint a face or a festive fall scene on the orange beauty?For a large squash that offers itself as an easy canvas for any painter – it’s white as paper – try ‘Casper,’ a 15-pound beauty that matures in 115 days.The shell is smooth, providing the perfect surface for your artwork, and the flesh is sweet, making eating it very easy.When you’re picking one to carve or use as decoration, make sure it doesn’t have any nicks or soft, rotten spots.Keep it away from wet, humid conditions, too, as they can invite fungus and rot, making your carefully cultivated squash go bad more quickly.If you grow several different varieties, you can paint a few, carve a couple, and use the rest for decoration, pies, and other tasty fall treats.Photos by Felicia Lim, Laura Melchor, and Nikki Cervone © Ask the Experts, LLC. .

How to Grow Pumpkins

tall; 10- to 15-foot spread Sun Exposure Full sun Soil Rich, moist, loamy Soil pH Slightly acidic (6.0 to 6.8) Native Area North America Hardiness Zones Grown as an annual in zones 2 to 11.Pumpkins are typically planted in raised rows or in hills that allow the sun to warm the soil early in the spring.A piece of cardboard or a wooden board placed under the fruit will prevent it from rotting.Before planting, mixing in a good amount of organic material, such as compost or peat moss, is recommended.Give your plants at least 1 to 2 inches of water a week, especially when they're blooming and setting fruit.Very humid conditions, when combined with heat, can foster the growth of fungal diseases.Pumpkins feed heavily in order to develop their extensive vines and large fruit.Feed regularly (every two weeks), beginning with a high-nitrogen fertilizer when the plants are about 1 foot tall, to support good foliage growth.Just before the plants begin blooming, switch to a high-phosphorus fertilizer to support fruit development.'Jack-O-Lantern', aptly named, has a relatively thin rind that glows when a light source is placed inside the hollowed shell.aptly named, has a relatively thin rind that glows when a light source is placed inside the hollowed shell.'One-Too-Many' is named because the creamy skin with red veins is said to resemble the complexion of a drunken person.is named because the creamy skin with red veins is said to resemble the complexion of a drunken person.Wait until the color is uniform and the shell doesn’t dent when pressed with a fingernail.Place in a warm, sunny spot (low to mid 80s degrees Fahrenheit) and space them far enough apart so they are not touching.Most damaging are vine borer insects that can infiltrate the stems and kill the plants.Squash bugs most often affect young plants, causing them to wilt and die.The best preventive measure is to regularly inspect plants and pick off the red eggs or grayish insects.A variety of pesticides approved for pumpkins will kill these insects, but chemical controls should be a last resort.You can prevent cucumber beetles by using row covers over the plants, but these will need to be removed when it is time for the flowers to pollinate.Anthracnose causes dark, sunken lesions on leaves and can also affect fruits that lie on the ground.Remove and destroy any damaged plant parts as you spot them, and keep the ground free of debris. .

Pumpkin Guide: Varieties for Eating, Carving and Painting

It's just that the bigger carving varieties have lower sugar content, thin walls and stringy, sometimes watery flesh.Technically, any type of pumpkin, gourd or squash can be carved, but you want to select ones that are easy for you and your kids to handle.Whether you're picking them out at a farm or at the grocery store, make sure that your pumpkin is healthy and free of decay.If you're headed for the patch, lift the pumpkin off the ground and make sure the underside hasn't started to rot.The Jack-O-Lantern variety is the most common for carving, but white Lumina pumpkins are a beautifully creepy choice for Halloween, too.Their thin walls make them easy to cut and allow candlelight to shine through once you've finished your Halloween designs.This variety offers sweet, fine-grain flesh and thin skin, as opposed to the thick rind of a carving pumpkin.This article is part of Mix It Up, an editorial series created in collaboration with AOL's Kitchen Daily and Huffington Post.It is dedicated to making the lives of mothers easier through articles, videos and slideshows focused on simple and creative solutions to everyday challenges.From healthy recipes to exciting ideas for a more balanced lifestyle, this section aims to become a resource for moms everywhere. .

The Best Pumpkins for Jack-O'-Lanterns

For your jack-o'-lantern, you want a pumpkin that is taller, giving you space for your artwork, and with less flesh, making it easier to carve.Jack-o'-lantern pumpkins are a smaller heirloom variety that was bred specifically to carve into jack-o'-lanterns.They were grown by the Native Americans prior to colonization by the Europeans and were part of the original Thanksgiving feast.Connecticut Field pumpkins have flat bottoms, making them very stable and perfect for sitting on your porch or in your window.The corn provided the beans with something to climb, while the squash vines shaded out weeds.They have the flat bottoms and thin rinds of their Connecticut Field forebears but last longer after carving.Choose a symmetrical, unblemished pumpkin with a long "handle"—or, if you are harvesting pumpkins from your garden, when cutting from the vine, leave enough stem to form a long handle.Cut the top off the pumpkin, making a hole that is large enough for you to comfortably get your hand into.This will make it easier to scoop out the stringy flesh and seeds.After you have completely cleaned out your pumpkin, find its best side and draw your design on the outside with washable marker.And don't forget to roast the seeds for a delicious snack while you are handing out candy to your neighborhood trick-or-treaters.Soak the seeds for a few hours in salt water and then dry them on a paper towel.Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in a 350°F oven until golden brown.Sad to say, pumpkins suck where I live (subtropics, where 80+ degree Halloweens are the norm).That's one thing I miss about living up north, the awesome pumpkin season.It certainly is Annie and I'm so looking forward to the cooler weather and colorful foliage.I put that tip in for parents who are looking for ways to make their children's creations last longer.I especially liked your recommendations on how to pick the best pumpkin and prolong your front porch jack o' lantern.Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on September 06, 2014:.Excellent advice for picking a great pumpkin for a Jack O Lantern. .

Pumpkin Varieties: Best Bets and Easy-to-Grow

Cross between New England Pie and a small naked seed pumpkin.Uniform size: 5 inches tall by 5½ in diameter.• Small Sugar (also called New England Pie).Nearly globular and narrowly ribbed; yellow-orange skin, uniform fine, light-gray cork-like netting; pale orange flesh.Medium-sized fruit weighs 10 to 15 pounds, round to rectangular in shape, nicely ribbed; rich orange skin matures to golden when mature.Bright golden orange pumpkins weigh 8 to 10 pounds; 1 to 3 fruits per plant.Sweet, fine-grained, pale orange flesh; good for cooking and stores well.Smooth, yellow-orange skin; irregular shape, round to oblong, shallow ribs, 9 to 10 inches tall, 7 to 10 inches in diameter; weighs 10 to 18 pounds.Round fruit, 12 inches in diameter, moderately ribbed, weighs 10 to 15 pounds; bright orange skin.Large orange pumpkin, 11 inches tall, 13 inches wide, flat on both ends; orange rind, orange-yellow flesh, weighs 18 pounds or more pounds.• Cinderella (also called Rouge Vif D’Etampes).Globe-shaped pumpkin, smooth, bright-orange skin, 10 inches in diameter, weighs 20 to 25 pounds.Coarse, somewhat granular, deep-yellow flesh with slight sweetness; best for canning and jack o’ lanterns.Round fruit with dark-orange, ridged rind, and long dark-green to black stem; weighs 15 to 30 pounds.Large, symmetrical, ridged, rich-orange skin, weighs 20 to 25 pounds.Large symmetrical, ridged, dark-orange skin, solid black-green stem, ranges from 20 to 60 pounds.Large, round, symmetrical fruit, weighs 20 to 30 pounds, smooth skin.Slightly rough, red-orange skin 3 to 4 inches thick.Slightly round to 40 inches in diameter, heavily ribbed, medium orange skin, thick light-orange flesh, large crown seeds.Novelty and pie pumpkin with coarse pale yellow-orange flesh.Irregular globe shape, smooth mottled pinkish-golden-orange skin, faintly ribbed, 18 to 24 inches in diameter, weighs 40 to 60 pounds, some over 100 pounds.Large, uniform, roundish fruit with smooth, glossy, bright reddish-orange skin.The pumpkin is a tender vegetable and will not germinate in cold soil; seedlings will be injured by frost.Plant after the last frost and allow a full warm growing season for pumpkins to reach maturity.If the garden is tight, contain pumpkins by pinching out the growing tips after a vine has one or two fruits.Sow pumpkin seed or set out transplants about 2 weeks after the last expected frost in spring.Sow seed or set transplants in raised mounds at least 1 foot across.Bees or insects must transfer the pollen from the male flowers to the female.Avoid using insecticides in the garden when pollinators are active.If you must use an insecticide apply in late afternoon or early evening when the blossoms have closed for the day; it is unlikely pollinators will be active at this time.These pests must be controlled to successfully grow pumpkins and other squashes.Place floating row covers over young pumpkin plants until they start to bloom.This will exclude attacking insects until plants are strong enough to withstand pest damage.Pumpkins require 100 or more days to reach harvest.Pick pumpkins when they are a deep, solid color–orange for most varieties–and the rind is hard.Use a pruning shears to cut pumpkins from the vine and leave a 3 to 4 inch stem attached to the fruit. .

Grow Huge JackOLanterns for the Best Pumpkin Carving Experience

The fruit and vines grow quickly so kids can see rapid progress.A plastic bucket works well and you can find those at Ace Hardware or Home Depot for around $4.When they spout, water them slowly and carefully as their main stalk is fragile.A good home remedy is to put a beer bottle down on its side.the goal is to slightly bury the bottle so that the neck is flush with the ground.Another home remedy for slugs and snails is to crush your leftover eggshells from cooking into small shards and scatter them around the seedlings.Pumpkins are a healthy food that is full of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium.When it is ready the stem turns from green to brown and become very hard, like wood.If you want a little variety, pumpkins range in color from white to deep red, and blue and turquoise.For fun ways to add healthy foods to your diet, continue to browse the Metabolic Research Center website.In addition to getting your kids interested in growing their own food, the whole family will enjoy the healthy benefits of our delicious recipes. .

The Secret to Picking the Best Pumpkins for Carving

They also have less guts on the inside, which are also grainier and stringier, making them easier to clean. .

How to choose a pumpkin to cook and carve... and grow your own

They're characterised by having a very hard, dark green hooked stem, which you can use as a handle.As the old phrase goes, a pumpkin is round and orange, a squash is good for eating.The classic to grow in this country is the light steel, grey-blue coloured ones known as Crown Prince.Onion shaped pumpkins/squash are also great, there are plenty of varieties to choose from.Or there's the warty French variety called 'Galeux d'Eysines' which is perfect for pumpkin pie as the wartier they get, the sweeter they are.All you need is a sunny, warm position, a nice fertile soil and then a good water once a week.Plus you can grow something completely different from what’s in the shops and have a really individual Halloween pumpkin.I think the best ones for people to grow at home are the small fruited varieties, because the plants stay smaller, they don't take up so much space.You literally cut the top off, scoop out the seeds and stuff them with breadcrumbs, cheese etc.Varieties include: ‘Buffy Ball’, ‘Jack Be Little’ or the ‘Hooligan’.Start in early to mid-May, ideally on a windowsill or in a green house if you have one.Then two or three weeks later plant the sprout out into the garden around late May to early June.Can I save seeds from my Halloween pumpkin or should I buy anew?So if you save a seed from a pumpkin you've bought or grown, it won't necessarily turn out as you expect... .

Time to Plant Pumpkins for a Fall Harvest

Native to Central and South America, pumpkins are a key ingredient for traditional Thanksgiving dishes such as pies, soups, and breads.In Central Texas, pumpkin patches are typically planted in early summer, as they require warm soils to germinate.Although June is prime planting time, pumpkin patches require advance planning because of the way they grow.Pumpkins are members of the gourd family, which includes cucumbers, melons, cantaloupe, watermelons, and zucchini.Pumpkins require at least eight hours of direct sun each day, so choose a sunny spot in your garden accordingly.Once the seeds germinate – usually in a week – wait seven to ten days and then carefully thin the seedlings with scissors, leaving only the strongest two plants.Common pests and diseases for pumpkins include squash bugs, vine borers, aphids, cucumber beetles, powdery mildew, and downy mildew, but these can be managed using organic techniques – remove the bug casings by hand or try spraying the pumpkins with citrus oils or compost teas. .

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