Mark Cullen: Carving and discarding your jack-o'-lantern
Published Wednesday, October 16, 2013 8:55AM EDT
With Halloween just around the corner I am reminded that virtually every Canadian within walking distance of some children will be visited on the big night, Thursday the 31st. No house worth visiting can be without a fresh, Canadian grown pumpkin.Truth is, we live in a country that is perfectly suited to pumpkin growing. We have warm summers, lots of sunshine and it is big (Canada that is).
Pumpkins are members of the cucurbit family, which include winter squash like Hubbard, Acorn and Butternut varieties, gourds and of course pumpkins. They were originally a 'Native' crop that was popular in Central and South America. We can thank the Spanish explorers for bringing them 'over' and introducing them to Europe. While all cucurbits love heat they grow on long, lanky vines that have a reputation for taking over ones yard. I don't recommend that you plant them in a townhouse lot for this reason.
Once ripe a pumpkin will remain ripe for up to 6 weeks, if you store it in a cool, dark place. Carve your pumpkin as close to Oct. 31st as possible... it will look much better fresh and carving it the night before with your kids/grandkids will help to build some excitement leading up to the big day (er, night).
When you are through with your orange faced wonder DO NOT throw it out. Place in on the surface of the soil in your garden where the frost will take care of it: 'melting' it into the earth over a few weeks as winter approaches. Alternatively just cut it up with a sharp shovel and put the pieces in your composting unit.Note that a pumpkin is 99 per cent water - so it makes no sense to send it to 'landfill' in your neighbourhood.