The wonders of Pumpkins

are an icon of autumn and can be a great way to involve children in
gardening. Growing their own pumpkin can be a good way to get them
outside and active through the autumn. The lure of the Jack o lantern
might draw them in, but kids are often more willing to try vegetables
if they’ve helped grow them. Although often discarded from carved
Halloween lanterns, pumpkin flesh is extremely nutritious. Not only
are pumpkins a good source of fibre, but also vitamins and A, C and
E, magnesium and potassium.  The sweet flesh is ideal for
roasting and makes great soups and curries, as well as forming the
basis for the American Thanksgiving favourite, pumpkin pie. Try
growing the variety ‘Jack of All Trades’ – as the name
suggests, this is perfect for carving spooky lanterns or for cooking.  We actually planted our own a few years ago and the children really enjoyed seeing them grow.  Both Emmy and Harry really enjoy scooping out the pumpkin ready to make one of their favourites – Steamed Pumpkin Soup.
bit of competition can also encourage kids to get involved. You could
start a family contest as to who could grow the largest pumpkin, or
enter a local competition. Many gardening clubs and allotments hold
pumpkin competitions, both for size and carved designs.  If
you’re feeling ambitious with your growing, why not try to set a
record with the supersized variety Atlantic Giant. Alternatively, you
could try one of the more unusual ornamental varieties to spark their
interest. The gourds ‘Snakes’ and ‘Russian Dolls’ have names
suggested by their fruits – when dried these can be painted as a
fun craft activity. For more ideas on how to get kids into gardening,
as well as a range of garden supplies, check out Premier Polytunnels.

varieties of pumpkin will tolerate the British climate, but for the
best results and more tender varieties, the frost protection and
shelter of a greenhouse or polytunnel is beneficial.  Growing
under cover extends the growing season as the weather cools. It can
also enable you to bring plants on in early spring, ready to plant
out as soon as the weather is frost free. You can help bridge the
winter season by encouraging children to choose what varieties they
might like to grow in the coming year. Edible flowers are a fun
option to engage kids in growing – colourful, attractive in borders
and an unusual addition to salads or cake decorating. Nasturtiums,
violas and sunflowers are all easy to grow, bright and edible. If
your children enjoy a pumpkin growing competition, keep them involved
by getting them into a sunflower height contest.  The variety
‘Mongolian Giant’ is ideal – with dinner plate sized blooms on
stems up to 4.2 metres tall, it is perfect for a growing competition,
as well as having edible seeds. The seeds mean dried sunflower-heads
also make great autumn bird feeders, once the blooms have passed.
Of course if you don’t fancy growing your own, you could also try your hand at making your own – here we share our crafting fail of paper mache pumpkin making but I’m sure you could do much better, or perhaps you make like to dress up as a pumpkin instead?
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