Photo and story by Donna Iverson
It's the Great Pumpkin time of the year. Like he does every year, Linus will be out in a field somewhere awaiting its arrival. Hoping that 2019 will be the year that the Great Pumpkin appears on Halloween with presents for believing children. He's been waiting a long time. Since 1959 in fact, when the first Shultz cartoon appeared featuring the Great Pumpkin. Followed by a classic TV special in 1966 called "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown."
While he waits, smaller, lesser pumpkins are springing up all around us. ..in our gardens, in our stores, on our steps, and decorating our living spaces. We can't seem to get enough of the lesser pumpkins.
But this year, Michigan residents may find those local carvable pumpkins harder to find. Farmers and gardeners report our pumpkins are not turning orange but remaining greenish orange due to a wet summer. And prices may be higher.
Looking into the history of the pumpkin, it turns out to be one of the oldest cultivated vegetables and is native to North America. Pumpkin seeds have been found as far back se 7000 BC in Mexico. Native Americans used it as a staple in their diet, as did the early colonists who cooked pumpkin stew, baked pumpkin bread and created pumpkin pie.
A member of the gourd family, along with cucumbers, cantaloupe, zucchini, and watermelon,
pumpkin is a good source of Vitamins A and B as well as potassium and iron. Planted in late May, it takes 120 days to fruit. And biologically, pumpkin is actually a fruit and not a vegetable.
It is grown on all seven continents, except Antarctica. And the way things are going, it may soon find a home there.
Several Midwestern states are the top pumpkin growers in the country, including Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. ..all a zone warmer than Michigan.
As for size, the average pumpkin weighs about 7- 18 pounds. The record for the worlds' largest pumpkin is held by a Belgium man, with a Guinness World Record weight if 2,624 pounds. The US record is held by a New Hampshire man, with a pumpkin that weighed in last year at 2,528 pounds.
As for me, I will settle for a pumpkin latte, made at my favorite corner coffee shop.