Gardening Tips

Gardening Tips – October 2019

Pumpkins All Season Long

Gardeners in New Orleans plant pumpkin seeds in July for Halloween jack-o-lanterns. So, if you didn’t plant pumpkins you may partake in the harvest from farmers markets and the canned pumpkins which are a combination of different squash. Pumpkins take between 90 and 120 days to grow and are picked in October when they are bright orange in color. Their seeds can be saved to grow new pumpkins the next year.

Pumpkins go hand in hand with Halloween and Thanksgiving. An orange fruit harvested in October, this nutritious and versatile plant features flowers, seeds and flesh that are edible and rich in vitamins. Pumpkin is used to make soups, desserts and breads, and many Americans include pumpkin pie in their Thanksgiving meals. Carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns is tradition that reportedly originated hundreds of years ago in Ireland. Jack-o’-lanterns were made out of turnips or potatoes; it wasn’t until Irish immigrants arrived in America and discovered the pumpkin that a new Halloween ritual was born.

Pumpkins are a member of the gourd, Cucurbitaceae family, which includes cucumbers, honeydew melons, cantaloupe, watermelons and zucchini. Like other squash, they originated in Northern Mexico and Southern United States but now grow on six continents. Pumpkins have been grown in North America for five thousand years and are indigenous to the western hemisphere. In 1584, a French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence region of North America and reported finding “gros melons” or large melon, Native American use the word “pepon” The name was translated into English as “pumpions/pompon” which evolved into the modern “pumpkin.”

Pumpkins are low in calories, fat, and sodium and high in fiber. They are good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, potassium, protein, and iron.



  • Pie crust: 1 1/2 c. flour, 2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 3/4 c. shortening and 4 T. ice cold water.
  • Filling: 1 1/2 C. of fresh cooked pumpkin or canned pumpkin, 1 c. sugar, 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ginger, dash of cloves and freshly ground nutmeg, 2 tsp of vanilla extract, 3 eggs, 1 cup of cream
  • Praline Topping: 3/4 C. brown sugar, 1/4 C. softened butter, 1 c. cream. A dash of salt


  • Crust: Combine flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in shortening and ice water to form ball. Chill. Roll out on floured surface and line a 9-inch pie plate. Crimp edge and prick shell with fork. Bake at 450 degrees for 7 to 8 min. Cool.
  • Filling: Combine all ingredients and fill cooled crust. Bake at 350 for 40-50 min.
  • Praline: Combine, cream, butter, sugar and salt, add pecans once other ingredients are incorporated. Spread mixture on cooled pie and broil until browned and bubbly. Cool. Serve slightly warm or at room temp.

AUTUMN SQUASH SOUP – (Like Panera Breads’ recipe)

1 large Butternut Squash
1-15 oz can of Libby’s can pumpkin or fresh cooked pumpkin
1 ½ cup vegetable broth
1 cup of honey (I added more)
½ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp cinnamon
¼ curry powder
1 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp of coconut oil-extra virgin
Roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
1 ½ cups Apple Juice
1 1/2 cups Half and half or cream

Cut Squash in half, lengthwise, sprinkle with olive oil and bake faced down on a cookie sheet or baking dish in a pre-heated oven at about 350 degrees until fork tender or cooked soft enough to spoon out. Add squash, pumpkin and other ingredients in a sauce pan and cook on a slow simmer until heated through. Pour part of mixture in a blender or use a hand blender to smooth out some of the chunks. Pour blended mixture back into larger batch and stir. Add roasted pumpkin seed if you like to individual servings. Serve warm with French Bread.

By Karen Blackburn

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