Pumpkins are not only for Halloween

Pumpkins are not only for Halloween

Pumpkins are not only for Halloween

Before you get carving, stop and look at your pumpkin that you’re getting ready for Halloween, and reckon how you would carve out one of the largest pumpkins which regularly reach weights of over 34 kg.

Giant pumpkins are large squash, (squash, gourds, and pumpkins are all part of the Cucurbitaceae family of fruits) with a pumpkin-like appearance that grow to exceptional size, with the largest exceeding one ton in weight, developed through the efforts of botanical societies and enthusiast farmers.

pumpkin carriage
Cinderella’s carriage would have been a giant squash..?

Although commercial pumpkins are orange colour, white pumpkins have become increasingly popular in the United States. Other colours, including dark green (as with some oilseed pumpkins), also exist. Pumpkins are grown all around the world for a variety of reasons ranging from agricultural purposes (such as animal-feed) to commercial and ornamental sales, with world production of pumpkins annually (including squash and gourds) at some 30 million tonnes, with China and India accounting for half of the total – of the seven continents, only Antarctica is unable to produce pumpkins.

A standard-size home in Gibraltar, or anywhere where homes are not in open fields or with a large garden available, is not the best place to grow pumpkins as the long vines on which they they grow need room to ramble, some extending 20 feet or more. Possibly in an apartment, with friendly neighbours, the vine could be trained out over the edge of the balcony but even growing small ones, maybe to get your own pumpkin seeds, using a 25 litre bucket will soon run out of space.

The pumpkin fruit is a type of botanical berry known as a pepo although the term pumpkin has no agreed upon botanical or scientific meaning, and is used interchangeably with “squash” and “winter squash”. Some of its different names in Europe are citrouille, calabaza, zucca, Kürbis, yaqtin and tök – the English word pumpkin being derived from the Ancient Greek word pepon (πέπων) meaning, confusingly perhaps, “melon”. To the Early Modern English it was pompion, which was changed to pumpkin by 17th-century English colonists, shortly after encountering pumpkins upon their arrival in what is now the northeastern United States.

An alternate theory for the derivation for pumpkin is that the Native Massachusett word for the fruit, pôhpukun, meaning “grows forth round”, was a term that would likely have been used by the Wampanoag people (pronounced in the Wôpanâak dialect of Massachusett) when introducing pumpkins to English Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony, located in present-day Massachusetts.

As well as carving pumpkins, and eating them, perhaps in these days of necessary social-distancing pumpkin-related sports will become popular – although growing the biggest/heaviest pumpkin may not be a true sport, pumpkin-chunking seems acceptable being a competitive activity in which teams build various mechanical devices designed to throw a pumpkin as far as possible.

Pumpkin-chunking is an established sport..

Catapults, trebuchets, ballistas and air cannons are the most common mechanisms, with some pumpkin-chunkers breeding and growing special varieties of pumpkin under specialized conditions to improve the pumpkin’s chances of surviving a throw.

The Guinness world record shot is held by a pneumatic cannon dubbed “Big 10 Inch”, shooting a La Estrella variety pumpkin 5,545.43 feet (1,690.25 m), on September 9, 2010 in Moab, Utah.. maybe as popularity of the sport increases in Europe chunking pumpkins out to sea will catch on in Gibraltar as an annual Festival, perhaps at Europa Point.

Written by features writer Jon Lewes