Questions? Write Me at

Questions? Write me at fullcirclegardener @ cableone . net.

Plant of the Week: Pumpkins

Pumpkin (Cucurbita sp.)
Say the word, October, and I almost immediately have visions of hollow orange 'balls' with smiling faces.  How about you?  A few years ago I had heard that most pumpkins grown in the US are grown for jack-o-lanterns rather than food, and it really wouldn't surprise me if it were true!  In our house, we are far more apt to purchase a pumpkin to carve than we are to bake and eat...

Either way, pumpkins are a fall favorite for both decorating and eating.  But, do you know, are you carving and eating a pumpkin... or a squash?  The University of Illinois Extension states that the line between pumpkin and squash is a blurry one.  'Pumpkins' come from one of four species in the genus Cucurbita that also produce common 'squash' such as buttercup, spaghetti, acorn and even zucchini.  The U of I Extension lists the varieties commonly grown for commercial canned pumpkin as coming from C. moschata, and the varieties that vie for 'The World's Largest' title each year from C. pepo.  (Speaking of 'the world's largest, the standing record holder was 1810.5lb grown in Wisconsin in 2010!)

Pumpkins are a large vining plant with no bush varieties that I am aware of, but can be grown as part of your vertical garden to save space.  The miniature varieties are especially easy to grow on a trellis as the fruit is small and does not need to be supported.  I planted both mini-boo (white) and jack-be-little on an A-frame trellis for the last two years with great success.  This year I also planted a full size jack-o-lantern variety that took over all of the vacated spaces in my garden and also climbed the tomato cages.  I ended up supporting one pumpkin that grew off the tomato cage and it has become an almost perfectly shaped pumpkin (that the kids & I will be picking soon!).

For more information on planting pumpkins see my post on buttercup squash as planting requirements are the same as all winter squash.

Happy Gardening! :)

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