The great pumpkins

A fall holiday or feast would not be the same unless pumpkins were part of the celebration. The pumpkin is in the genus Cucurbita along with other winter squash and gourds. Most pumpkins are planted in July and harvested in the fall. It is believed that pumpkins were native to North America and they got their name from the Greek word "pepon," which means large melon.

Photo from wikimedia.orgby Martin Doege

There are nearly 60 varieties of pumpkins in cultivation today, and they come in all shapes, sizes and colors. If you want small pumpkins, maybe the Baby Boo is for you. If on the other hand you like big pumpkins, perhaps you would search out Dill's Atlantic Giant, a pumpkin that was bred for pumpkin-growing competitions.

Are you looking for good pumpkins for pie? Then perhaps the Western Maryland Amish pie variety would fit the bill. Tired of the same old pumpkin look? Then perhaps you would be interested in a Long Island Cheese, Musque, Queensland Blue or Red Warty Thing.

Are you tired of the neighbor kids smashing your pumpkin? Then the Iron Man might be just what you are looking for. This round, hard pumpkin is very sturdy and can tolerate much abuse. Iron Man also sounds like it would be a good projectile should you decide to enter a pumpkin-chuckin' contest.

Looking for an excellent jack-o'-lantern? Then the Rock Star might do. Some people can't wait to cook up some pumpkin seeds. The Kakai pumpkin has huskless seeds that are very tasty when roasted.

If you like pumpkins as a fall decoration, then try a Hooligan or Cushaw Green and Gold. Nearly 80 percent of the pumpkins that are grown are processed for goods like pies, skin care products, food, diet and nutritional supplements, animal feed, and assorted alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, to name a few.

The top pumpkin producing countries are the United States, Canada, Mexico, India and China. The top pumpkin-growing states are Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California.

Four world records were set in various categories at the pumpkin-chunkin' world championships held last year in Delaware. The competitions will be held this year from Nov. 2 to 4 in Bridgeville, Del.

Full moons

The moon goes through a series of phases from a new moon to full moon every 29 days. There have been many names given to the time when the moon is full. The Farmer's Almanac lists the following names:

  • January -- wolf moon

  • February -- snow moon

  • March -- storm moon

  • April -- pink moon

  • May -- flower moon

  • June -- strawberry moon

  • July -- buck moon

  • August -- sturgeon moon

  • September -- harvest moon

  • October -- hunter's moon

  • November -- beaver moon

  • December -- cold moon

The term blue moon refers to two full moons in one month; we had a blue moon in August.

One phenomenon that is very rare is to have a month in which there are no full moons. This only occurs in February and only happened four times in the last century; the last time was in 1999.

A full moon occurring on a Monday is considered good luck, but a full moon occurring on Friday the 13th is supposed to bring bad luck. The next time there will be a full moon on Friday the 13th will be June 13, 2014.

Wood cut during a new moon is said to be hard to split, but cutting wood during a full moon is supposed to be easy to split. Grass crops cut during a full moon are supposed to dry quickly.

A study by a British medical journal stated that dog bites requiring a hospital visit were twice as common during full moons versus other times.

The next time there will be a full moon on Halloween will be Oct. 31, 2020. The moon can appear white, blue, red or orange depending on the amount of dust in the atmosphere and the angle of the moon in relation to the sun. In the fall, the moon tends to be orange in color.

Articles by FCFCDB members

Nature Notes for 10/28/2012