We are in the season of one of America’s favorite fruit – pumpkins. As we approach the last major holidays of the year – Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas – pumpkins will be center stage on the tables of many homes while celebrating the holidays.
Pumpkins are a popular treat during the fall season. Consumers will see an abundance of them in their local grocery stores over the next few weeks. Although organic pumpkins are generally more expensive than conventional ones, the extra money is worth it to your health and well-being.
Home Grown Pumpkins, Pests, and Soil Protection
Growing pumpkins at home the conventional way will damage the soil over time. Organic pumpkins are grown with natural processes and pest treatments, which makes them a great choice for the health-conscious consumer. Conventionally-grown pumpkins are grown with harmful chemical pesticides that can threaten the environment and health of humans. Furthermore, these chemicals will pollute groundwater and destroy the growth of other crops.
Common garden pests such as squash bugs or cucumber beetles will be attracted to pumpkins. However, instead of using harsh chemicals to eradicate them from your pumpkin garden, use organic practices and treatments, such as an organic insecticidal soap. Incorporating organic garden practices will keep your crops and soil healthy.
Growing and Caring for Pumpkins
Growing pumpkins requires a lot of care, nurturing, and a lengthy growing season. It takes about 75 to 100 days prior to the first frost. It is recommended to plant pumpkins by the end of May in the north and early July in the south. Make sure the soil is rich and can be well-drained. Pumpkins grow best when the seeds are planted directly in the soil. The soil should be near 70 degrees or higher prior to sowing. Pumpkins are sensitive to cold temperatures.
Pumpkins need lots of water. Add mulch around the pumpkins to maintain moisture and manage pest control. Regular treatments of manure or compost along with water will encourage growth. Prune your vines to manage space. To produce a nice, large, and even-shaped pumpkin for the holidays, turn the pumpkin carefully as it grows.
Health Benefits of Pumpkins
Health experts say that pumpkins have a variety of health benefits since they are packed with beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a super antioxidant that gives pumpkins their bright color. Furthermore, beta-carotene converts into vitamin A, which is an essential vitamin for the body.
Pumpkins are abundant in other key vitamins and minerals and they are low in calories. Also, pumpkin seeds, leaves, and juice have great nutritional value. Cooks can use pumpkins in salads, desserts or soups and receive the health benefits of this superfood.
Top Pumpkin-Producing States
Pumpkins are harvested all around the world. They are used for animal feed on farms, healthy food for humans, and decorations for holiday celebrations. The United States is one of the major pumpkin producers internationally. The top pumpkin-producing states include California, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.