Pumpkin cultivation is one of the most widespread in Italian gardens. Vegetable belonging to the family of cucurbits, from Central America, is characterized by the high number of shapes, colors and sizes in which its species are divided. It is good to know, moreover, that nothing is thrown away of this vegetable: the pulp, of course, is used in the kitchen in different recipes and preparations, including the realization of a tasty jam; the seeds are consumed, after being dried, as a salty aperitif; the flowers are eaten in the risotto, or fried; and finally the peel, which lends itself to amusing processing, as the Halloween party teaches. Pumpkin cultivation should preferably be carried out in a temperate and warm climate, with temperatures between eighteen and twenty-four degrees. The plant suffers in particular the cold and the frost, and even with temperatures below ten degrees it can be damaged; on the other hand, it also bears excessive heat, and suffers from temperatures that exceed twenty-eight degrees.
Which terrain to use
On the other hand, the requirements from the soil point of view are minor: the ideal substrate for pumpkins, however, is a soft, medium-textured, well-drained soil with a high content of organic substances. Before preparing the holes, it must be worked, stirring the clods and making them softer, in depth. It is worth specifying that in the first stages minimum weeding operations are necessary, which can be performed simply with a weeder or a rake, in such a way as to move the superficial soil and remove weeds. Speaking of sowing, it must start between April and May (the seeds can be found in any specialized store) or in any case when the temperatures are stable around twelve degrees. In holes with a maximum depth of three or four centimeters, two or three seeds are placed. Taking into account the average size of a pumpkin, it is important to leave between one hole and another at least a meter and a half away. When the seedlings are young, mulching must be performed, which involves laying straw on the ground - but other materials are also fine - in order to avoid the appearance and growth of weeds. In doing so, the roots are protected: nothing prevents, however, from performing mulching even after transplanting the seedlings. After they are checked, it is also advisable to carry out a thinning action: in practice it is a matter of removing the excess seedlings starting from the less strong ones, leaving at most two plants in each hole.
Fundamental to the pumpkin cultivation It is, of course, fertilization, which must be carried out with manure, to be mixed with the soil, or with a sufficiently mature compound, which can be found in specialized centers. The topping of the main branch should be carried out periodically, after the second or fourth leaf (depending on the size of the plant): this is an operation to be carried out with very sharp blades (whether it is a pair of scissors, whether it is a knife) and strictly disinfected, to avoid the attack of pests and various infections. The aim is, of course, to favor the production and appearance of axillary shoots: if large pumpkins are desired, only two or three fruits should be left for each plant. Moreover, weeding operations, which consist of a superficial and tamping soil tillage, which instead involves removing the soil between the rows to position it at the foot of the plants, are particularly effective. weeds, and the soil is more aerated and oxygenated.
Which insects suffer
The pumpkin suffers, among the insects, the mongoose and the aphids, but also cryptogams such as the mosaic, gray mold and oidium: they can be prevented, however, being careful not to favor the stagnation of water. The pumpkins harvest takes place between September and November, when the fruit is ripe, the leaves are dry and the climate is not too cold. Nothing prevents, of course, from to cultivate the pumpkin inside a vase. It will be advisable to use a large container, so that the plant is able to develop without limitations or problems. The procedures to be followed and the rules to be respected, moreover, are the same as those for land cultivation. Vigorous plant, with short stem with bushy habit or creeping stems (with lengths that can reach even three or four meters) depending on the variety, the pumpkin has petioles and leaves covered with rough hairs. The well-known flowers have rather large dimensions and are characterized by an intense yellow color. Recognizable by the peduncle (in the female flowers it is shorter), they can be collected fresh and consumed. It is worth remembering, however, that the market, as a result of non-natural hybrids and selections, currently offers a large variety of seeds, so as to satisfy the most different tastes and needs. A curiosity that not everyone knows, finally: the courgette is nothing more than a pumpkin that is not yet ripe.
Pumpkin cultivation: Properties of the pumpkin
The reputation of the pumpkin is linked to the traditional Halloween party that has been spreading in Italy for some years. Of course, the importance of this vegetable does not end with the holiday but goes further. The pumpkin is a food with important beneficial properties for our health and for this reason it is good to introduce it in our diet. We must know that the pumpkin is mostly made up of water and this gives it the title of healthy food for those who are working to complete a diet because it contains very few calories. The fact that it is very rich in fibers also allows you to lose weight more easily as the intestine is helped and cleaned by these substances. Thanks to its high content of carotene and other substances, it is an antioxidant food and thus helps eliminate free radicals and delay the aging process of cells and skin. Pumpkin also functions as a diuretic and eliminates toxins present in the body and prevents fluid retention.