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CCFB News» August 2021

Ag with EmOh my Gourdness!

The idea of carving pumpkins is most likely still overlooked by thoughts of the pool and sunny days, but for my family and me, the magic of pumpkins and gourds is in full bloom…Literally!

 

At the very end of May, my family was already thinking about pumpkins, not carving them, but instead, thinking about getting the seeds into the ground so that they would be fully grown in the fall. We started by planting rows and rows of countless varieties of pumpkins and gourds in our garden.

 

First, we started by poking our seeds into the ground, covering them, and watering them so that they could survive the previous dry weather. A month or so later, our garden is already overrun with huge leaves and spiraling vines! The jack-o'-lantern pumpkins take around 100 to 120 days to grow before being ready to harvest once the seeds are planted.

 

Soon these vines become dotted with big yellow flowers that will be the start of a pumpkin. Not only do these excite me because it is a hint at our future harvest, but also because it attracts many important pollinators to our garden like bees and butterflies! These pollinators play a very important role as the plant will only grow pumpkins and gourds if pollinated by these insects. Bees play a large role throughout the plant's growth. The busy bees in our garden then spread the pollen between the flowers.

 

Eventually, these beautiful flowers will start to die but will be replaced by the start of a pumpkin or gourd that will be ready for Halloween in October. At first, the pumpkins will appear small and green, but will grow bigger and develop their flamboyant color!

 

While most people are familiar with pumpkins, my favorite Halloween decoration is a gourd, the snake gourd to be precise! Carving pumpkins is fun, but nothing beats picking the perfect gourd that appears to bend and curve like a real snake! We then use colorful tape or paint to make them look like a slithering rattlesnake with the stem painted red like a tongue!

 

This fall, while you are at the farmers’ market or pumpkin patch, be sure to remember all the hard work that is taking place now to grow our favorite fall fruit! Additionally, branch out beyond just the standard jack-o'-lantern and explore new varieties of pumpkins and use your imagination to create fun things out of gourds! To find more information on pumpkins, be sure to check out the Pumpkin Ag Mag and Teacher Resources on our website! Be on the lookout for a picture of our harvest and a decorated snake gourd in the fall!

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