Pumpkin

Health Power

We most often see the seeds of large pumpkins around Halloween in late October, but they are full of important nutrients all year round. Ongoing research suggests pumpkin seeds help in maintaining prostate health. (Components in the oil prevent the enlargement caused by over-stimulation from the male hormones testosterone and dihydrotestosterone.) Pumpkin seeds also contain carotenoids and omega-3 fatty acids, which have antioxidant action and are beneficial fats compared to saturated fats. Pumpkin seeds also have magnesium and zinc, two minerals important for calcium uptake and bone building, among other benefits. The seeds are being investigated as potent anti-inflammatory agents. Animal studies show they reduce inflammation without the undesired side effects of fat damage in joint linings. Perhaps most exciting about eating pumpkin seeds: They are rich in phytosterols, molecules thought to lower cholesterol and boost the immune system. More research is needed to be conclusive, but they may also help lower the risk of some cancers.

Vitamin and Mineral Content

Vitamins – K
Minerals – Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Iron, Copper and Zinc

Disease Prevention

Regularly eating pumpkin seeds may reduce the symptoms or onset of osteoporosis, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, anemia and other conditions (depending on the results of current research).

How to Grow

See Winter Squash for how to grow. These round orange fruits, closely related to winter squash, are common for pies, seeds and Halloween décor.

Insect Control

See Summer/Winter Squash for how to manage pests.

Tips

Pumpkins can grow large. Make sure you allow enough space for your chosen variety. Pumpkins grow on one main vine with secondary vines coming off. Tertiary vines grow off the secondary vines, and the pattern continues unless controlled. The most popular pruning method is the “Christmas tree” method. Prune the main vine when it reaches 10 feet past the last fruit you want. Prune tertiary vines when they begin to grow from buds on secondary vines, and pinch off secondary vines when they reach about 10 feet. This promotes fruit growth while limiting plant growth. Pinch off any new growth from the pruned sections. Cover vines with soil to promote secondary root growth. Rotate pumpkins once in a while to maintain symmetry, but be careful not to damage the vine.

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