Pumpkins are available

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

If you drive down the road, you can't help but see the numerous roadside stands that are selling pumpkins.

Pumpkins are great seasonal decorations that you can purchase to help local agriculture.

Looking back throughout history, there are many references to pumpkins.

The name pumpkin originated from the Greek word, "Pepon," which means large melon.

As the word spread throughout different cultures, it was transformed to "Pompon," by the French, "Pumpion," by the English and finally pumpkin by the American colonist.

Pumpkins have been referenced in numerous works of art, including Shakespeare's "Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," and "Cinderella."

Most often, when you ask someone what they know about pumpkins, the first thing they will say is that they are used to make jack-o-lanterns.

The practice of making jack-o-lanterns for Halloween has been done for centuries.

Ultimately, the practice of making jack-o-lanterns originated from an Irish myth about "Stingy Jack."

Here are some helpful hints if you are thinking about carving a jack-o-lantern with your family or friends.

For starters, only purchase pumpkins with a stem.

If there is no stem, it will not last as long.

However, do not carry the pumpkin by the stem because it could break off.

When selecting a pumpkin, try to avoid one with holes, cuts or soft spots, as these will eventually cause rot.

For longer lasting pumpkins, select one with a darker orange colored skin.

Please note that lighter colored pumpkins are easier to carve.

Once you have the pumpkin home, you should wash it with warm water and allow it to dry before carving.

When you carve, save the seeds as they as an excellent source of phosphorus.

There are actually two ways to process seeds: Drying and roasting.

Please remember before drying or roasting the seeds, you should carefully wash them.

Be as creative as possible when carving your pumpkin.

If children are involved, remember to closely watch them so they do not cut themselves using the knife.

Even the small knives that come in pumpkin carving kits can create an open wound if used improperly.

Once you have the pumpkin carved, coat the inside with petroleum jelly.

By doing so, the pumpkin should last longer.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* Oct. 8 -- Extension office closed due to county holiday,

* Oct. 13 -- Owen County Extension Board annual dinner,

* Oct. 13 -- Adventures in Gardening, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Hendricks County Fairgrounds. Cost is $45. Call 317-745-9260 to register,

* Oct. 16 -- Area PCARET Meeting,

* Oct. 20 -- Ohio Valley Garden Conference, 7 a.m.-4 p.m., Evansville. Cost is $42. Call 812-963-5577 to register,

* Oct. 29 -- Clay County Extension Board meeting, Clay County Extension Office, and

* Oct. 31 -- Clay County Extension Office closed.