The History of Pumpkins

Pumpkins are believed to have originated in Central America. Seeds from related plants have been found in Mexico, dating back over 7000 years to 5500 B.C.

Native American Indians used pumpkin as a staple in their diets centuries before the pilgrims landed. When white settlers arrived, they saw the pumpkins grown by the Indians. Pumpkin soon became a staple in their diets, too. They also brought seeds back to Europe, where they quickly became popular. Just like today, early settlers used pumpkins in a wide variety of recipes, from desserts to stews and soups. In addition to cooking with pumpkins, they also dried the shells and cut strips to weave into mats.

Early settlers made pumpkin pie by filling a hollowed out shell with milk, honey and spices, then baking it.Whether they learned this from Native Americans is not known.


Pumpkin Growth Record

World Record: 1689 lbs
Grown by: Joe Jutras, North Scituate, R.I.
Growth Seeds: Atlantic Giant
Seeds sold for: $850
Growth system:

They start their seeds indoors, toward the end of April, in a sterile mix that has been inoculated with fungi, which set up a symbiotic relationship with plant rootlets, helping them to absorb nutrients and fend off any diseases as the pumpkin plant develops.

The plants go outside into the mini-greenhouses as soon as the baby plant’s first true leaf appears. Once the main vine has grown to the edge of its greenhouse’s wall, it’s time to remove the protection of the house, though lightweight covers made out of spun plastic are usually ready at hand if nights turn cool.

Then comes the mad race to keep up with vines that can grow three feet a day, coursing over the 750 square feet of fertile loam ideally allocated to each plant. The vines are buried, to encourage roots to grow, drawing more nutrients out of the soil to feed only a few favored fruits to ripen on the main stem.

Each pumpkin plant drinks 60 gallons of water a day. Growers love the kind of hot, dry season they just had — because they can control the water, rather than watch helplessly as a deluge pours down. Too many pumpkins have split because of too much water, bursting a grower’s dream.

Miracle-Gro used to be the magic ingredient. Now, it’s sea kelp and secret ingredients for compost tea. And mycorrhizae — the symbiosis between fungi and plant roots — is on the lips of the champions these days.



Jack O'Lantern History

The Irish brought the tradition of the Jack O'Lantern to America. But, the original Jack O'Lantern was not a pumpkin.The Jack O'Lantern legend goes back hundreds of years in Irish History. As the story goes, Stingy Jack was a miserable, old drunk who liked to play tricks on everyone: family, friends, his mother and even the Devil himself. One day, he tricked the Devil into climbing up an apple tree. Once the Devil climbed up the apple tree, Stingy Jack hurriedly placed crosses around the trunk of the tree. The Devil was then unable to get down the tree. Stingy Jack made the Devil promise him not to take his soul when he died. Once the devil promised not to take his soul, Stingy Jack removed the crosses and let the Devil down.
Many years later, when Jack finally died, he went to the pearly gates of Heaven and was told by Saint Peter that he was too mean and too cruel and had led a miserable and worthless life on earth. He was not allowed to enter heaven. He then went down to Hell and the Devil. The Devil kept his promise and would not allow him to enter Hell. Now Jack was scared and had nowhere to go but to wander about forever in the darkness between heaven and hell. He asked the Devil how he could leave as there was no light. The Devil tossed him an ember from the flames of Hell to help him light his way. Jack placed the ember in a hollowed out Turnip, one of his favorite foods which he always carried around with him whenever he could steal one. For that day onward, Stingy Jack roamed the earth without a resting place, lighting his way as he went with his "Jack O'Lantern".

On all Hallow's eve, the Irish hollowed out Turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and beets. They placed a light in them to ward off evil spirits and keep Stingy Jack away. These were the original Jack O'Lanterns. In the 1800's a couple of waves of Irish immigrants came to America. The Irish immigrants quickly discovered that Pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve out. So they used pumpkins for Jack O'Lanterns.

Tim Summers, Teodoro Boccuzzi, William Pfhol and Thomas Knizeski
I, Tim Summers, apologize if I misspelt your name.