Weaving rugs from pumpkins?
Pumpkins have been grown in Central America for thousands of years. The original varieties were small and bitter, but they were refined over time. Bowls and musical instruments were made from the pumpkins, and even rugs were woven from them. The flesh was dried into thin strips that could be woven into textiles.
The pumpkin genus appeared in Europe during the 16th century. It wasn’t until the 19th century that they became widely appreciated as kitchen vegetables.
Pumpkin and squash are the same genus
All pumpkins and squash belong to the same genus. In botanical Latin, they are called “Curcubita.” Depending on how long the fruits can be stored, they are called summer squash (Curcubita pepo) or winter squash (Curcubita maxima). Fruits with hard shells can be stored for longer.
Although pumpkins belong botanically to summer squash, pumpkins can be stored longer than summer squash.
Directly sow or pre-cultivate pumpkins
In southern Sweden, you can directly sow pumpkins in May-June. But usually, pre-cultivation is recommended.
Feel free to soak the seeds for a day before sowing to speed up germination. Choose a fairly large pot from the start, 10-20 cm in diameter. Place the seeds 3-4 cm deep in potting soil. Place the round side facing upwards. The roots will develop from the pointed part of the seed.
Keep the sowing warm, about 25 degrees. Use an electric heating mat or place the pots on a radiator, floor heating, or above a refrigerator. Keep the soil moist during germination. It’s advisable to cover the sowing with a transparent lid or plastic with air holes.
When the pumpkins sprout, it’s time to remove any lid or plastic cover. Place the seedlings in a bright and cool spot.
Pumpkins can be planted when the risk of frost is completely over and the temperature is at least 4-5 degrees at night. Depending on the cultivation zone, this is around the middle of June. Pumpkins are very sensitive to cold. Harden off the plants by keeping them outside for longer periods over a few days. Cover them with a fleece if necessary. Bring the pots inside at night.
Pumpkins prefer to grow in a warm and sunny spot. Plant them in nutrient-rich soil. It’s a good idea to continue using a fleece for a week or two. This protects the plants and creates a warmer microclimate.
Caring for pumpkins
Pumpkins are strong plants that are usually trouble-free to grow. They have a high need for water, so water regularly if there’s no rain.
Don’t grow pumpkins in the same place year after year. Rotate your crops. This reduces the risk of diseases.
When fruiting starts, it’s a good idea to raise the pumpkins off the ground. Place a piece of cardboard, a board, or a tile under the fruit. This protects them from the risk of rotting and from hungry snails.
If you want to have a few large pumpkins, you can let the desired number of fruits develop and pinch off the rest of the flowers. Alternatively, you can let the plant develop many fruits, which will then be slightly smaller.
Pumpkin – delicious and versatile in the kitchen
Pumpkins can be harvested as the fruits develop. The plant is stimulated to produce new fruits when you pick the pumpkins. Cut or clip the pumpkins off the stem.
In addition to the flesh, the seeds and the beautiful yellow flowers are also edible. Pumpkin is delicious in stews, casseroles, pies, and roasted in the oven. A well-spiced pumpkin soup with homemade bread is the quintessential autumn treat. Its sweetness also makes it suitable for jam and desserts such as cheesecake.
Depending on the variety, pumpkins can be stored for a few months in a cool place. The shelf life increases if a part of the stem is left attached when harvesting.