A smile appears on my face when I think of autumn. Many of my favorite things occur in autumn; sunny, crisp weather, football, Halloween…and one of my all time favorite plants is ready to harvest, PUMPKINS!
Pumpkins are technically a fruit, and belong to the same family as melons, cucumbers, and squash ("Cucurbitacae"). Follow these tips to grow your own fabulous organic pumpkins:
Standard bush, semi-bush types, or miniature pumpkin vines are more suited for the small backyard gardener.
Plant seeds in healthy organic soil in late spring when all danger of frost is past.
For well-formed pumpkins, water well during peak summer months, and be careful of bruising young fruit to avoid later scarring.
To avoid powdery mildew; a white fungus that forms on leaves, water plants only during the day allowing moisture to evaporate quickly. Or use a soaker hose which waters roots while not soaking the leaves. If powdery mildew has already shown its ugly face, research organic damage control options.
Be prepared for a visit from cucumber beetles and squash bugs, which usually attack young plants. Research organic control options for these pests.
Harvest in late summer, as soon as pumpkins are bright orange and stems are rigid and woody
Nutritional Value of Pumpkin
- Calcium – 37 mg
- Carbohydrate – 12 gm
- Dietary Fiber – 3 gm
- Folate – 21 mcg
- Iron – 1.4 mg
- Magnesium – 22 mg
- Niacin – 1 mg
- Potassium – 564 mg
- Protein – 2 grams
- Selenium – 0.50 mg
- Vitamin A – 2650 IU
- Vitamin C – 12 mg
- Vitamin E – 3 mg
- Zinc – 1 mg
- Calories – 49
Health & Nutrition Benefits of Eating Pumpkin
- Pumpkin is very rich in carotenoids, which is known for keeping the immune system of an individual strong and healthy.
- Beta-carotene, found in pumpkin, is a powerful antioxidant as well as an anti-inflammatory agent.
- Being rich in alpha-carotene, pumpkin is believed to slow the process of aging and also prevent cataract formation.
- Pumpkin has been known to reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a serious eye problem than usually results in blindness.
- High fiber content aides in healthy digestion.
- Being loaded with potassium, pumpkin is associated with lowering the risk of hypertension.
- The presence of zinc in pumpkins boosts the immune system and is said to increase bone density.
Health & Nutrition Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
- Promotes overall prostate health
- Seeds contain L-tryptophan, a compound that has been found to be effective against depression
- The seeds are known as a protector against osteoporosis
- They have been known to reduce inflammation, without causing the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Studies have revealed that the seeds help prevent calcium oxalate kidney stone formation.
- Being rich in phytosterols, they have been associated with reducing the levels of LDL cholesterol.
Here's to growing your own organic jack-o-lanterns!