We’re halfway through October and fall is underway! Nothing makes you think "fall" more than pumpkins, right? Jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin pie both come from pumpkins, but did you know that there are different kinds of pumpkins? Let’s explore a few!
Taking a trip to the pumpkin patch is always a fun family activity! While technically any pumpkin or gourd can be carved, you want to choose a pumpkin that is easy to handle. Can you guess what the most common carving pumpkin is called? It is the Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin! These pumpkins were bred for carving, so they have little flesh (“pumpkin guts”) on the inside and thin walls that make it easy to carve and allow candles to shine through. Lumina pumpkins are also a fun choice for carving due to their eerie white skin.
Need a book recommendation? Try Pumpkin Countdown! In this fun rhyming book, a class takes a trip to the pumpkin patch and count everything in sight.
Sugar or Pie pumpkins are perfect for making pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread. These pumpkins are usually less than 10 pounds and more dense than pumpkins used for decorating. They can easily be found in your local grocery store or local farm stand. These small, round pumpkins are full of pulpy, sweet flesh that is perfect for cooking. Cinderella pumpkins- pretty pumpkins that, yes, look like Cinderella’s carriage- are also a popular choice for baking.
In addition to pumpkin pie and bread, a lot of people like to eat pumpkin seeds! How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara explores counting pumpkin seeds in Mr. Tiffin's classroom.
If you or your kids aren’t into carving pumpkins, painting is also a fun option this fall! You can really paint any type of pumpkin, but smooth, bump-free pumpkins are ideal. Many pumpkins have ribbing so some great smooth-skin selections are Orange Smoothie, Cotton Candy and Lumina varieties. These pumpkins are pretty tasty too so if you want to eat them after painting, make sure to use non-toxic paint.
Want to learn more? Gail Gibbon's book The Pumpkin Book explores many different pumpkin varieties and what they're used for.
You’ve probably seen these tiny pumpkins on a Thanksgiving table or decorating a mantle. These small pumpkins aren’t baby pumpkins; they are a specific type of pumpkin that is supposed to be that small! These cute varieties have fun names like Baby Boo, Bumpkin and Munchkin. Due to their size, you can easily grow your own miniature pumpkins even with limited space.
If you’re interested in growing your own miniature pumpkins (OR if you have the room to grow large ones) check out this article.
There are numerous varieties of pumpkins out there, so visit your local pumpkin patch and see what you can find!
If you want to learn more about pumpkins, and other commodities check out Farm a Month and the accompanying book bundle.
Illinois Ag in the Classroom also has a free Ag Mag on pumpkins in Illinois!