Start by growing your pumpkin. You can keep it organic and make it a family affair. It’s a project your whole family will enjoy.
Start with fresh seeds from a reputable company. For pumpkin pies Baby Pam’s are a good choice. If you want to grow Jack-O-Lanterns a good variety to start with would be Connecticut Field or a Howden.
Choose an area that gets full sun with good drainage. The vines can grow up to 30 feet so make sure there is room for them to grow.
Pumpkins are very sensitive to wind and frost so wait until the day’s average at least 70°F and the last chance of frost has passed. Plant your seeds 1 – 2 inches deep.
Pumpkins are about 80 – 90% water, so as you can imagine they use a lot in their growth. Water pumpkins only when they need it. Check the soil. As long as the moisture is good and your plant looks healthy, leave it alone. When the soil starts to dry out, or the plant starts to look a bit wilted, give it a long deep soak. Deep, but infrequent watering results in a healthier plant. It is important not to get water directly on the plant’s leaves. Almost all pumpkins are susceptible to a fungal disease called powdery mildew. If a fertilizer or pesticide is needed use eco-friendly products made by Dr Earth.
There are many indications your pumpkin is ready for picking. A Jack-O-Lantern variety should be predominately orange in color. If the vine has started to die off, this is another signal the pumpkin is ready. The most important indication however is to make sure the shell has started to harden. If the pumpkin indents using your fingernail, the fruit is still too immature to harvest. If you harvest it too early, your pumpkins will likely spoil within days. When the shell has hardened, your pumpkin is ready to cut from the vine. It takes pumpkins about 125 days to mature.
Use shears to cut the stem leaving the stem as long as you can. Picking up a pumpkin by its stem can cause the stem to break causing the pumpkin to rot quicker.
Hopefully your pumpkin patch was successful and you have plenty of Jack O Lantern options. Make sure you have the proper carving utensils before carving. A narrow boning or paring knife to cut out the lid works best. An ice cream scoop is great for scooping out the goop. But don’t throw away the seeds! Roast them for a real treat. They not only taste good but are a great source of phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and copper. They are also a good source of other minerals including zinc and iron. In addition, pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein. Once you’ve removed them from the pumpkin place the seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet and lightly roast them in a 160-170°F (about 75°C) oven for 15-20 minutes. Recommended roasting time for pumpkins seeds should be no more than 15-20 minutes when roasting at home. This recommendation is supported by a new study that found 20 minutes as a threshold time for changes in pumpkin seed fats. When the seeds were roasted for longer than 20 minutes, a number of unwanted changes in fat structure were determined to occur. Roasting for no longer than 20 minutes will help you avoid these unwanted changes.
After Halloween, don’t let your Jack O Lantern go to waste! You can actually use it for your Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pies. The neat thing is, nothing goes to waste!
Wash and cut up your Jack-O-Lantern into 4 inch pieces. Pressure cook in 1 C. water for 10-12 minutes. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, simmer in a covered pan for 30-45 minutes or until soft and tender. Drain, scoop out the peelings and blend in a food processor or blender until smooth.
3 1/2 C. Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin
3/4 C. organic sugar
1/2 t. sea salt
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
1 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. cloves
3 organic eggs
1 C. dry non-instant organic milk
1 9-10 inch pie shell
Thoroughly combine all of the above. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 400 for 50 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean. Cool and enjoy!
Any unused pumpkin food scraps and fallen leaves can be composted and are great for the soil next spring.
Have a great green Halloween!
Mom Christine Barlow is the inventor of 5 Phases eco-friendly and non-toxic baby bottles, the safest and healthiest way to bottle feed your baby. Her inspiration in creating an alternative to traditional feeding bottles came after the birth of her 1lb 7oz micro-preemie baby. Having a compromised child, she became aware how environmental factors were affecting our children. With all the concerns of plastics and infants being the most vulnerable, she felt there was a need for more options for parents who wanted to use glass. She knew she had to act – and the 5 Phases Hybrid Glass Baby Bottles were born.
5 Phases is dedicated to helping families achieve a healthier and organic lifestyle. Starting with baby, they develop products keeping both the environment and health of your family in mind. And when it comes to your baby nothing else will do – Christine knows, she’s a mom too!
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