Posted on October 15 2018
Why Do We Carve Pumpkins on Halloween?
In the United States, pumpkins go hand in hand with the fall holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving. An orange fruit harvested in October, this nutritious and versatile plant features flowers, seeds and flesh that are edible and rich in vitamins. Pumpkin is used to make soups, desserts and breads, and many Americans include pumpkin pie in their Thanksgiving meals. Carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns is a popular Halloween tradition that originated hundreds of years ago in Ireland. Back then, however, jack-o’-lanterns were made out of turnips or potatoes; it wasn’t until Irish immigrants arrived in America and discovered the pumpkin that a new Halloween ritual was born.
It wasn't until Irish immigrants brought the custom of carving jack-o'-lanterns to North America that the more commonly available and easier to carve Pumpkin came to be used for that purpose, and not until the mid-to-late 19th century that pumpkin carving was an established Halloween tradition.
Costumes and trick-or-treating
The tradition of dressing in costumes and trick-or-treating may go back to the practice of "mumming" and "guising," in which people would disguise themselves and go door-to-door, asking for food, Santino said. Early costumes were usually disguises, often woven out of straw, he said, and sometimes people wore costumes to perform in plays or skits.
The practice may also be related to the medieval custom of "souling" in Britain and Ireland, when poor people would knock on doors on Hallowmas (Nov. 1), asking for food in exchange for prayers for the dead.
Trick-or-treating didn't start in the United States until World War II, but American kids were known to go out on Thanksgiving and ask for food — a practice known as Thanksgiving begging, Santino said.
"Mass solicitation rituals are pretty common, and are usually associated with winter holidays," Santino said. While one tradition didn't necessarily cause the others, they were "similar and parallel," he said.
PLANTING, GROWING, AND HARVESTING PUMPKINS
Whether you use them for carving or cooking, pumpkins do not disappoint. Here’s how to plant, grow, and harvest pumpkins!
SELECTING A SITE
- Pick a site with full sun (to light shade) and lots of space for sprawling vines. Vine varieties need 50 to 100 square feet per hill.
- However, if your garden space is limited, no worries! Plant pumpkins at the edge of the garden and direct vine growth across the lawn or sidewalk. The vines will only be bothersome for a few weeks. You can also grow pumpkins in big 5 to 10 gallon buckets! Or, try miniature varieties.
- Pumpkins are big, greedy feeders. They prefer very rich soil that is well-drained and not too soggy. Mix lots of compost and aged mature into the planting site before you sow seeds or transplant. Learn more about soil amendments and preparing soil for planting.
PLANTING BY SEED
- Pumpkins do best when the seeds are planted directly in the ground.
- If your growing season is very short, seed indoors in peat pots about 2 to 4 weeks before last spring frost. Be sure to harden off before transplanting.
- Wait until the plant soil is 70ºF or more before sowing seeds. Optimum soil temperature is 95ºF. Pumpkins are very sensitive to the cold.
- Plant seeds in rows or “pumpkin hills,” which are the size of small pitcher mounds. With hills, the soil will warm more quickly and the seeds will germinate faster. This also helps with drainage and pest control.
- Prepare the hills in advance with an abundance of old manure dug deep into the ground (12 to 15 inches). If you don’t have manure, loosen the soil and mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost
- Plant the seeds 1 inch deep into the hills (4 to 5 seeds per hill). Space hills 4 to 8 feet apart.
- Your plants should germinate in less than a week with the right soil temperature (70 degrees F) and emerge in 5 to 10 days.
- When the plants are 2 to 3 inches tall, thin to 2 to 3 plants per hill by snipping off unwanted plants without disturbing the roots of the remaining ones.
- In rows, sow seeds 6 to 12 inches apart in rows 6 to 10 feet apart. Snip off plants to thin to one plant every 18 to 36 inches.
- Your best bet is to harvest pumpkins when they are mature. They will keep best this way. Do not pick pumpkins off the vine because they have reached your desired size. If you want small pumpkins, buy a small variety.
- A pumpkin is ripening when its skin turns a deep, solid color (orange for most varieties).
- When you thumb the pumpkin, the rind will feel hard and it will sound hollow. Press your nail into the pumpkin’s skin; if it resists puncture, it is ripe.
- Harvest pumpkins and winter squashes on a dry day after the plants have died back and the skins are hard.
- To slow decay, leave an inch or two of stem on pumpkins and winter squash when harvesting them.
- To harvest the pumpkin, cut the fruit off the vine carefully with a sharp knife or pruners; do not tear. Be sure not to cut too close to the pumpkin; a liberal amount of stem (3 to 4 inches) will increase the pumpkin’s keeping time.
- Handle pumpkins very gently or they may bruise.
- Pumpkins should be cured in the sun for about a week to toughen the skin and then stored in a cool, dry bedroom, cellar, or root cellar anywhere around 55ºF.
- If you get a lot of vines and flowers, but no pumpkins, you need more bees in your garden to pollinate the flowers. Grow some colorful flowers next to your pumpkin patch this year and you may get more bees and butterflies!
- The yellowish pumpkins will soon come handy to give the cows. They help out the fall feed, and if there is anything better for cows in milk we should like to know it.
HOW TO GROW PUMPKIN IN SMALL SPACE
How to grow Pumpkins in small space.If you have a large medium square planter pot which is perfect for anyone who is beginning to learn about growing pumpkins and they do love any kinds of soil just make sure it is fresh and plant them early April at the most because they will grow and spon up very fast and tall and make sure you have plenty of water as it really needs it during the hot days of those months. The Pumpkin's will not be ready to pop out until it is the right time of the season but the stems and leaf will grow at fast rate.make sure you keep the soil wet but not swampy nor too too dry not even dry but enough wet and dry so they can be healthy.you don't need,that much food to give it.just water and sun is all you need.
I hope I helped some beginner's who want to learn how to grow pumpkins.