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The Pumpkin And Its Components
There is no wild counterpart to the field pumpkin that exists today. Today's pumpkins are byproducts of domestication and evolutionary pressure from humans – some are grown for consumption, while some are for show or even everyday use.
Family and Species
Pumpkins belong to the Cucurbitaceae family and are specifically part of the C. pepo species, full of summer and winter squashes. Gourds, spaghetti marrow, zucchini, cocozelle, squash, and Ozark melons are all just variations in this group. Some cultivars of related species – C. argyrosperma and C. moschata, for example – are known as 'pumpkins' as well. And those giant pumpkins in all the record books? They're almost always from the species C. maxima.
Colors and Sizes
Pumpkins – no matter in which species – are extremely diverse, and come in captivating colors, sizes, and shapes. Some are pale and white, like the Lumina and Casper varieties. Others are large and showy with green and orange splashes, like the Speckled Hound or the Hooligan.
The Porcelain Doll F1, a relative newcomer, is a surprising pink pumpkin while the Rouge Vif comes in vibrant red hues. In terms of size and texture, pumpkins range from small to large and can have smooth, flat, or bumpy skin. Some are enormous, thousand-pound lumpy giants (like the C. maximas mentioned!) while others can fit in my toddler's palm.
The larger ones often don't taste very sweet, while others, like the Sugar Treat pumpkin, are perfect for desserts and pumpkin pies.
Most pumpkins need plenty of water, sun, and nutrients in the soil to thrive and grow. But they're certainly hardy and adaptable – pumpkins grow on every continent except Antarctica.
They are relatively easy to grow and require a soil pH level between 6.0 to 6.5 for the best yield.
Pumpkins cannot grow in frosty conditions and need warmth. It takes field pumpkins between 75 - 100 days before they are ready for harvest, so it's best to plant them in the early summer.
The field pumpkin is a highly nutrient-dense food that is low in calories but rich in vitamins and minerals. Today's pumpkins' macronutrients and health benefits are pretty compelling, and it's even suitable for your pets.
Field pumpkins are nutritious, high in fiber, potassium, and riboflavin, and low in fat. They contain vitamins K, B6, C, and E, and are plentiful in beta-carotene.
On the flip side, all squashes produce biochemical compounds known as cucurbitacins. These biochemicals lend squashes a bitter flavor, and specific cultivars have more cucurbitacins than others. Overdosing on them can cause adverse GI effects and even hair loss(!), so it's best to pick a cultivar raised for eating just in case. Read Full Story Here
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