A national day for pumpkins

Gardeners can appreciate this quote from Henry David Thoreau: “I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”

Thoreau had it right – what is better than strolling outdoors, wandering into an autumn garden and spotting a squatty, round, solid pumpkin than to be in stuffy indoors sitting on an aged velvet cushion?

Pumpkins are an integral part of American culture and since they are an indispensable feature of autumn gardens, a day has been set aside just to celebrate the pumpkin (allnationalday.com). Tomorrow, Oct. 26, is National Pumpkin Day.

Growing a Guinness World Record champion pumpkin is one way to celebrate. A Minnesota horticulture teacher has set a new world record for the largest pumpkin in the 50th World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Half Moon Bay, California. His family’s 2023 pumpkin was a monster jack-o’-lantern weighing 2,749 pounds from which at least 687 pies could be made (AP,10/9/23)!

If pumpkins are not part of your autumn garden, there are ways to enjoy these iconic vegetables. There are at least two local pumpkin walks that are free and open to the public.

The Monterey Pumpkin Trail in the Monterey Prayer Garden at 6111 82nd St. in Lubbock will be Wednesday, Oct. 25 from 6:45 to 8 p.m. Not only will there be pumpkins galore but there are also hot dogs, chips, hot cider, and trick or treating for the kids. If you want to volunteer call (806) 795-5201.

Lubbock’s annual Pumpkin Trail at Lubbock Memorial Arboretum in Clapp Park, 46th Street and Avenue U, will be Thursday, Oct. 26 through Sunday, Oct. 29. Daylight hours are Friday through Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., evening hours are Thursday and Sunday 6-8:45 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 6-9:45 p.m.

Pumpkins that have made their way to your home can last past Thanksgiving if properly stored. They should be kept in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location with temperatures between 50 to 55° F. Never refrigerate them. Keep separate from apples, pears, or bananas because the ethylene gas that is released from these fruit hastens senescence of the pumpkins and they will soften and rot. Place in a single layer where they don’t touch one another. Good air circulation helps prevent moisture from forming on the surface of the fruit and helps prevent growth of decay fungi and bacteria.

Peffley

Peffley

Pumpkins and winter squash of varied shapes and colors augment an orange-only pumpkin décor. The pumpkin in the accompanying photo is an AAS 2020 winner, ‘Blue Prince’ F1hybrid (ngb.org). After using ‘Blue Prince’ in fall décor, they are a treat to eat. The beautiful blue, flattened pumpkins weigh between 7 and 9 pounds. Their deep orange flesh is non-stringy, with a savory, deliciously sweet flavor and creamy texture.

It is too late to plant seed for a pumpkin crop but pumpkins and squash can be found all around the city. Celebrate National Pumpkin Day by buying a pumpkin!

Ellen Peffley taught horticulture at the college level for 28 years, 25 of those at Texas Tech, during which time she developed two onion varieties. She is now the sole proprietor of From the Garden, a market garden farmette. You can email her at [email protected]

This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Gardening for You: A national day for pumpkins