Sunday, July 17, 2011

pumpkin cultivation

A pumpkin is a gourd-like squash of the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae (which also includes gourds). It commonly refers to cultivars of any one of the species Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita mixta, Cucurbita maxima, and Cucurbita moschata, and is native to North America. They typically have a thick, orange or yellow shell, creased from the stem to the bottom, containing the seeds and pulp.

In Australian English, the name 'pumpkin' generally refers to the broader category called winter squash in  

North America.Description

The word pumpkin originates from the word pepon , which is Greek for “large melon". The French adapted this word to pompon, which the British changed to pumpion and later American colonists changed that to the word we use today, "pumpkin". The origin of pumpkins is not definitively known, although they are thought to have originated in North America. The oldest evidence, pumpkin-related seeds dating between 7000 and 5500 B.C., were found in Mexico. Pumpkins are a squash-like fruit that range in size from less than 1 pound (0.45 kilograms) to over 1,000 pounds (453.59 kilograms).

Since some squash share the same botanical classifications as pumpkins, the names are frequently used interchangeably. In general, pumpkin stems are more rigid, prickly, and angular (with an approximate five-degree angle) than squash stems, which are generally softer, more rounded, and more flared where joined to the fruit.

Pumpkins generally weigh 9–18 lbs (4–8 kg) with the largest (of the species C. maxima) capable of reaching a weight of over 75 lbs (34 kg).The pumpkin varies greatly in shape, ranging from oblate to oblong. The rind is smooth and usually lightly ribbed. Although pumpkins are usually orange or yellow,some fruits are dark green, pale green, orange-yellow, white, red and gray.

Pumpkins are monoecious, having both male and female flowers on the same plant. The female flower is distinguished by the small ovary at the base of the petals. These bright and colorful flowers have extremely short life spans and may only open for as short a time as one day. The color of pumpkins is derived from the orange pigments abundant in them. The main nutrients are lutein and both alpha and beta carotene, the latter of which generates vitamin A in the body.
Taxonomy

Pumpkin is the fruit of the species Cucurbita pepo or Cucurbita mixta. It can refer to a specific variety of the species Cucurbita maxima or Cucurbita moschata, which are all of the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae.

Distribution and habitation

Pumpkins are grown all around the world for a variety of reasons ranging from agricultural purposes (such as animal feed) to commercial and ornamental sales. Of the seven continents, only Antarctica is unable to

produce pumpkins; the biggest international producers of pumpkins include the United States, Mexico, India, and China. The traditional American pumpkin is the Connecticut Field variety.

Pumpkin Cultivation

There's an old saying: To be a successful gardener, grow pumpkins. With this truth, you only need one thing to produce pumpkins: seeds! Still, there are always questions. Surely there's more to it than just placing the seed in the

ground ... What about the fine points? Herewith are a few questions and answers. They are designed to supplement the tiny print on the back of most pumpkin seed packets.
 
What kinds of pumpkins grow the best? Top

Almost any pumpkin seed ultimately will produce pumpkins. The important question is: what kind of pumpkins do you want to grow? 

The traditional Jack O'Lantern is a particular variety officially known as the Connecticut Field Pumpkin. They are usually between 10 and 20 pounds each (though they can grow as big as 50 pounds) and have a bright orange color and the classic pumpkin shape. It is the picture-book pumpkin and the one produced by most commerical growers. Looks aside, the Connecticut Field variety is plain-tasting, not especially sweet, and somewhat watery for pie. Fortunately there is a vast and varied population in the pumpkin world. Some of their names bring to mind wrestlers or race horses: Baby Boo, Munchkin, Spooktacular, Big Max, Cinderella, Lumina, Atlantic Giant ... and there are many more. Pumpkin varieties come in a wide range of potential sizes (from a few ounces to over 500 pounds) and in several colors (ranging from white to pink to red to traditional orange). The big ones require more garden space, but the leaves and flowers of the different types look remarkably similar. 

Which one to plant? Be my guest. They are all very willing to enjoy your nurturance. I like to grow several kinds in my United Pumpkin Nations Patch! They all seem to get along quite well.
It is exciting and satisfying to grow seeds that have been saved from last year's pumpkins. But there are a few uncertainties to be noted. First, be sure the seeds were dried in the air, not the oven. Also there is a possibility that the seed will produce a hybrid -- a cross between a pumpkin and another kind of squash. These are called Squmpkins and their color, size, and shape are unpredictable. Still, they are exotic, weird, and one of a kind. 


Where, when, and how should the seeds be planted? Top Where: Pumpkins love a sunny spot -- the more sun the better. Choose a place that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day.

When: Seeds can be planted directly in the garden when the days consistently reach into the low 70's and the spring rains have tapered off. In colder climates, the seeds can be started indoors and transferred to the garden when the weather warms. Most pumpkins require 110 to 140 frost-free growing days. The amount of time depends mainly on the variety, the climate, and the number of daylight hours during the summer days.

  How: Pumpkins seeds typically are planted in the middle of small hills or mounds that are about three feet in diameter. Surround each hill with a moat (about 4 inches wide and 4 inches deep) to help contain water around the roots. Plant 4 to 5 seeds in a circle in the middle of the hill, and space the seeds about 6 to 8 inches apart.

Thankfully, pumpkin seeds know which way is up, regardless of how they are set in the ground. Traditionally, the seed is laid on its side, narrow edge skyward. Soaking the seeds the night before planting will soften the outer shell and make sprouting easier and faster. But don't let this little step hold you up if you are suddenly ready to plant. Cover the seeds with about an inch of soil to block out light and hide them from hungry birds. The soil should be loosely packed and kept moist but not wet; think of it as a well-squeezed, damp sponge.

During the seed stage, water gently with a sprinkling can to avoid washing away the covering soil. Don't peek under the soil or you may disturb the delicate root hairs that are forming. After 7 to 14 days, the seed sprout cracks the soil, and within a day, two succulent oval baby leaves break through and unfold like a pair of opening hands which soon look like low flying butterflies.

If you are planting more than one hill of pumpkins, the hills should be 10 feet apart. Once the seedlings are established (two weeks after they have sprouted), thin to two or three of the strongest and largest young plants per hill. This may take some courage, and it may seem impossible to make the right choice. Take heart in the promise of abundance. In the pumpkin garden, it will surely be fulfilled.

How much room do pumpkins need? Top
Pumpkin plants are vigorous vines and love to sprawl. A single vine can grow as long as 30 feet, sending out many vine shoots all along the way. Looking down from an airplane, it will appear as a carpet of lush green leaves.

Does this mean pumpkins can't get along with their neighbors? Absolutely not. The vine can be pruned, trained, and redirected to live harmoniously with other plants. Pumpkins are often planted at the edges of a corn and bean patch. The corn supports the climbing beans, and the pumpkin vines are trained to creep among the corn stalks, The huge leaves of the pumpkin plant serve as a floating mulch that holds down weeds and keeps the soil moist. This classic Native American combination -- sometimes called the three sisters -- not only grows well together, but their blended tastes and textures make a delicious main course.

While pumpkins usually keep low to the ground, they can be encouraged to grow where other plants might never venture. I've seen them climb over shrubs, up fences and onto roofs. They do this with the help of their tendrils -- curly grabbers that develop like a hand at every leaf node. Tendrils are touch sensitive and will tightly curl around any waiting objects in the path of the vine -- sticks, weeds, plants, anything that has a loose end. The tendrils keep the vine stable as it reaches out across the garden. If you train a pumpkin to grow up

and onto a flat or slightly sloped shed roof, it is like adding another floor to your garden. Direct the growing vine to the side of a building and use 3" galvanized nails (drive them in about half an inch) as tendril handles. With your guidance, the tendrils will curl around the nails and ultimately the vine will reach and sprawl along the roof. When pumpkins develop on the vine as it climbs the building, tack up old nylon stockings as slings to support the swelling fruit. Or pinch off the baby pumpkins until the vine reaches the roof. Then let them flourish on their penthouse porch. Pumpkins on the roof! Your neighbors will drop their jaws as they scan the horizon.

Should nutrients be added to the soil? Top
All the pumpkin seeds packets say: "Plant in rich soil". But how do you know if your soil is rich enough? If the spot you've chosen for your pumpkin patch has traditionally grown lots of weeds, then it definitely has something to offer. But is it rich enough? Soil, like bank accounts, can always use at least a little bit more. The question then becomes: What to add? Compost and aged manure are often recommended. Check with a

local garden center for packaged products. Pumpkins are considered "heavy feeders" and do well with a little extra nourishment. One nutrient source that works well and is reasonably priced has the dismaying name "fish emulsion". It is a concentrate of fishy by-products, rich in minerals, that smells a little like low tide. Add a few glug-glugs (about a quarter of a cup) to a gallon of water and sprinkle it on each pumpkin mound every three of four weeks. It is definitely a power booster. There are many "miracle" goods on the market. They promise a large supply of big pumpkins while posing the question of pushing versus encouraging the natural process.
What about watering? Top 

If pumpkins could speak, their first words would probably be: "Gimme a drink." Between 80 to 90% of every pumpkin is water; and water is an essential medium for bringing nourishment to the entire plant. Fortunately, the plant has a built-in water-gathering and water-conservation system: The huge leaves are a hovering mulch, mediating ground and sky, shading the soil, keeping it moist, and inhibiting competition from weeds. They also

are exquisitely designed to draw nourishment from the sun and guide water to the base of the plant. The question is not whether to water pumpkins, but when and how much. A major factor is the kind of soil in the patch. Sandy soil needs more water than soil with high deposits of clay. In either case, the rule of thumb is: turn off the water when puddles appear; and wait till the soil is dry on top before watering again. It is best to water the plant at the roots rather than sprinkling from above. Drip systems and soaker hoses are efficient, reasonably priced, and easy to install. Check with any local garden shop or hardware store for suppliesHow do pumpkin plants develop and reproduce? Top

About a week after the two baby leaves appear, the first "true" leaf, sporting jagged edges, starts to grow from the center of the young sprout, providing a glimpse of the plant to come. After three true leaves are established, the pumpkin plant moves into wild and crazy leaf and root development that lasts about eight weeks. At its peak, the vine can grow as much as 6" a day.

Ten weeks after planting, the first flowers suddenly appear between leaves and tendrils. Each flower blooms for only one day. They start to unfurl just before dawn, and during a four hour period, they open into luxurious velvet bowls. By mid-day, they are on a slow course of folding in on themselves; and by dusk, they are sealed forever.

Every pumpkin plant has two kinds of flowers -- male and female. Both are golden yellow, suggesting the color of the fruit to come. On the surface, males and females look quite similar. However, with a little observation you can begin to tell them apart. The male flowers, which appear first, sit on long thin stems and are more plentiful than females. The females sit closer to the vine and rest like queens on fuzzy round thrones -- baby pumpkins in waiting.

In pumpkin land, the bees are the matchmakers, gathering pollen from the center of the males and depositing it inside the female flower while glutting themselves on sweet nectar. The bees are so busy with their gathering and guzzling, they are oblivious to onlookers and very unlikely to sting. So, if you are inclined, arise early in the morning, get out your binoculars and have a close look. It is like watching the California gold rush: greedy miners discovering the motherlode. Between watching bee visits, take a deep breath, and the delicate fragrance of the flower will add a new reward to your careful peeking.

Some avid growers (and seed "manufacturers") imitate the bees and pollinate the pumpkins manually in order to control and develop certain traits. The process is quite simple: use a small artist's brush to gather pollen from the males; carefully carry it to a chosen female and deposit the pollen by "painting" the center of her flower. To keep out all other would-be pollinators, place a small paper bag over the female flower and secure it with a rubber band. Not nearly as exciting as watching the bees, but interesting in a scientific sort of way.

Should pumpkin plants be pruned? Top
Pumpkins plants are vigorous growers. Almost from the beginning, they are like adolescents -- bursting with energy, going places without permission, and displaying their amazing abilities over and over again.

Pumpkin vines withstand pruning quite well. Properly done, it strengthens the plant and helps it thrive. In most cases, the plants require some cutting if only to keep them from growing into your kitchen. Every pumpkin plant has a main and a secondary vine that usually grow in opposite directions. Each of these two vines produce shoots (or tertiary vines) which can be selectively pruned as the plant develops. It is best to clip when these new side shoots begin to develop. The plant will leak or bleed a little when it is clipped, but it seals over quickly. The amount of pruning usually depends on how much garden space is available. Trimming the plant is definitely necessary to train the vine to run in a long narrow line along the edge of a garden and to keep the plants from crawling over each other and their neighbors.

When pruning plants, wear long pants and gloves: the vines are prickly. As you walk through the garden to check on pumpkins or to tame runaway vines, remember that there are roots all along the vine that spread out like a fancy hairdo just beneath the top few inches of soil. It is best to walk on boards or tiles -- or at least to follow the same path each time. This will help the soil remain soft and loose and keep the roots "fluffy" so they can take in water and nutrients.

In addition to pruning the vines, some gardeners prune the fruit -- selecting a few for special attention and removing the rest. This population control concentrates the energy of the plant and yields larger but, of course, fewer pumpkins. Wait for the pumpkins to reach grapefruit size before pruning. Even without selective pruning, all baby pumpkins do not necessarily grow to maturity and may suddenly yellow and shrivel on the vine. Perhaps they were not fully pollinated or maybe they were poorly located on the vine, competing for nourishment with a more developed neighbor. The harsh truth is that not every tiny pumpkin is destined to make it to the end of the season.

What about danger and disease? Top Pumpkin plants are hardy and strong, but like all living things, they are vulnerable to outside forces. In the early stages, the main danger is frost. If the young plants are in the ground and the nights threaten to become very cold, protect the seedlings with inverted clay flower pots or a small cold frame, removing the covering each morning. Strong wind is another threat to the sprawling plant. The tendrils help to hold the vine down, but sometimes it is necessary to add anchors: u-shaped stakes made from coat hangers work very well or criss-cross 18" bamboo

As the season progresses, many insects and critters will visit. Almost all are friendly and many are simply on their way to another land. Even snails seem to overlook pumpkins, preferring, instead, less fuzzy fare. In different regions, pumpkins are variously plagued by gophers and moles, vine borers and beetles, aphids and mildew and other unwelcome visitors and conditions that threaten their security. When these forces find their way into your patch, they will need to be discouraged. Garden books offer a wide range of "solutions" ranging from harmless but effective soaps to heavy duty poisons. Throughout the season, keep an eye out for any irregularities, especially in the leaves (both the top and bottom). To diagnose the problem, take a sample to the garden center, another knowledgeable gardener, or the library (where the best books have pictures of squash plants and their problems). As with your own health, early detection is the best way to prevent a major problem and usually requires the least intervention. My own preference is to keep the patch as organic as possible. A healthy well-fed plant, basking in sunlight, unburdened by competition from weeds, and properly watered has the best chance of successfully resisting danger as well as recovering from attack.

What should be done to take care for the developing fruit? Top

The basic rule for taking care of the developing pumpkin fruit is to handle it as little as possible. At the same time, there are a few widely practiced interventions. First, to encourage the classic pumpkin look (round as opposed to lop-sided), adjust the fruit so that it's bottom or flower-end is sitting squarely on the ground. This pumpkin "chiropractics" should be done after the fruit is well-established -- usually a month after its appearance and when the flower has dried and fallen off. Gently but firmly lift the stem and the vine together with one hand, the pumpkin with the other, and slowly rotate the position of the fruit without using undue force. You may have to cut or loosen a few surrounding tendrils before lifting. At this point, pumpkin "complexion" can be helped by slipping a shingle between the young pumpkin and the soil. This prevents scarring or bruising as the pumpkin grows and rotting if the soil becomes too soggy. Wear gloves; those vines are prickly; and take care not to crease or snap the vine.

Many people, especially kids, like to personalize their pumpkins -- inscribe their names or draw a picture or a face on one of their growing treasures. Perhaps it has something to do with the urge to establish ownership, engage in primitive tribal scarring, or simply to co-create with nature. Wait until the pumpkin is about 3 to 4 weeks old or developed enough to have smooth, slightly toughened skin (all fuzz long gone). Any blunt tool will do; a large nail works fine or even a ball point pen. Break the skin and don't penetrate more than 1/8 inch. There will be some "bleeding" for a few hours after surgery. Wipe the marking during the next few hours, and it should seal within a day. At first, it may be hard to see the results; but the scar will show in time and will grow in size along with the pumpkin.

When should pumpkins be picked? Top By late August, the days and nights grow colder and the green pumpkins begin to change colors like the fall leaves. As the fruit ripens, the vine displays the inevitable signs of age: older leaves become tattered, fewer flowers bloom and the energy of the plant seems to turn more inward, focusing on the fruit filled with the seeds that hold the promise of the future. Eventually, the scraggly vines lie like skeletons through the garden while the pumpkins -- fiery skulls that have trapped the energy of summer -- are scattered throughout. At this point, it is always good to invite a friend over to marvel at the fruit and to help to adjust to the shifting mood of the garden.

Pumpkins are ready to harvest once the color of the fruit has deepened into one of the shades of the setting sun -- somewhere between deep yellow and fiery red, depending on the variety. Leave several inches of stem -- it helps them stay fresh -- and let them cure in the sun for 10 days. Cover them at night if there is danger of frost. Then, store the harvest in a dry cool place. With proper care, you may just have pumpkins until Spring.
  There may be more questions. There are always more questions. Rest assured that pumpkins do not require answers. All through the growing season, these gregarious, lush plants display extraordinary vitality. As natives to the American continent, they reflect the American spirit -- generous, innovative, filled with energy, drawing resources and nourishment from every possible corner, and imposing their presence wherever they grow. And the fruit, the largest in the vegetable kingdom, has inspired cooks to prepare delicious food and kids to carve horrific faces. Hail to pumpkins -- nurturing body and arousing spirit. We are honored to witness your glory!

Cultivation in the US

As one of the most popular crops in the United States, 1.5 billion pounds (680,000,000 kilograms) of pumpkins are produced each year.The top pumpkin-producing states in the U.S. include Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California. According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, 95% of the U.S. crop intended for processing is grown in Illinois. Nestle produces 85% of the processed pumpkin in the U.S. In the fall of 2009, rain in Illinois devastated the Nestle crop, resulting in a shortage affecting the entire country during the Thanksgiving holiday season.

Pumpkins are a warm-weather crop that is usually planted in early July. The specific conditions necessary for growing pumpkins require that soil temperatures three inches (7.62 centimeters) deep are at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius) and soil that holds water well. Pumpkin crops may suffer if there is a lack of water or because of cold temperatures (in this case, below 65 degrees (18.3 degrees Celsius); frost can be detrimental), and sandy soil or soil with poor water filtration. Pumpkins are, however, rather hardy, and even if many leaves and portions of the vine are removed or damaged, the plant can very quickly re-grow secondary vines to replace what was removed.

Pumpkins produce both a male and female flower; honeybees play a significant role in fertilization. Pumpkins have historically been pollinated by the native squash bee Peponapis pruinosa, but this bee has declined, probably due to pesticide sensitivity[citation needed], and today most commercial plantings are pollinated by honeybees. One hive per acre (4,000 m² per hive) is recommended by the United States of America (US)

Department of Agriculture. If there are inadequate bees for pollination, gardeners often have to hand pollinate. Inadequately pollinated pumpkins usually start growing but abort before full development. An opportunistic fungus is also sometimes blamed for abortions.[citation needed]

Giant pumpkins

The largest pumpkins are Cucurbita maxima. They were cultivated from the hubbard squash genotype, crossed with kabocha-pumpkin types by enthusiast farmers through intermittent effort since the early 19th century. As such germplasm is commercially provocative, a U.S. legal right was granted for the rounder

phenotypes, levying them as constituting a variety, with the appellation Atlantic Giant. Eventually this phenotype graduated back into the public domain, except now it had the name Atlantic Giant on its record (see USDA PVP # 8500204).

Weigh-off competitions for giant pumpkins are a popular festival activity. The world record held at 460 pounds (208.65 kilograms) until 1981, when Howard Dill (of Nova Scotia) broke the record with a pumpkin near 500 pounds (226.80 kilograms). Dill patented the seeds used to grow this giant pumpkin, deeming them Dill’s Atlantic Giant seeds, and drawing growers from around the world. Dill is credited for all of the giant pumpkins today, most of which are borne from crossing and re-crossing his patented seed with other varieties. By 1994, the Giant pumpkin crossed the 1,000-pound (453.59-kilogram) mark. The current world record holder is Chris Stevens's 1,810-pound Atlantic Giant pumpkin, which in October 2010 surpassed Christy Harp's previous 2009 record of 1,725 pounds.

UsesCultivation in the US

As one of the most popular crops in the United States, 1.5 billion pounds (680,000,000 kilograms) of pumpkins are produced each year. The top pumpkin-producing states in the U.S. include Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California. According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, 95% of the U.S. crop intended for processing is grown in Illinois.Nestle produces 85% of the processed pumpkin in the U.S. In the fall of 2009, rain in Illinois devastated the Nestle crop, resulting in a shortage affecting the entire country during the Thanksgiving holiday season.

Pumpkins are a warm-weather crop that is usually planted in early July. The specific conditions necessary for growing pumpkins require that soil temperatures three inches (7.62 centimeters) deep are at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius) and soil that holds water well. Pumpkin crops may suffer if there is a lack of water or because of cold temperatures (in this case, below 65 degrees (18.3 degrees Celsius); frost can be detrimental), and sandy soil or soil with poor water filtration. Pumpkins are, however, rather hardy, and even if many leaves and portions of the vine are removed or damaged, the plant can very quickly re-grow secondary vines to replace what was removed.

Pumpkins produce both a male and female flower; honeybees play a significant role in fertilization. Pumpkins have historically been pollinated by the native squash bee Peponapis pruinosa, but this bee has declined, probably due to pesticide sensitivity[citation needed], and today most commercial plantings are pollinated by honeybees. One hive per acre (4,000 m² per hive) is recommended by the United States of America (US) Department of Agriculture. If there are inadequate bees for pollination, gardeners often have to hand pollinate. Inadequately pollinated pumpkins usually start growing but abort before full development. An opportunistic fungus is also sometimes blamed for abortions.

Giant pumpkins

The largest pumpkins are Cucurbita maxima. They were cultivated from the hubbard squash genotype, crossed with kabocha-pumpkin types by enthusiast farmers through intermittent effort since the early 19th century. As such germplasm is commercially provocative, a U.S. legal right was granted for the rounder phenotypes, levying them as constituting a variety, with the appellation Atlantic Giant. Eventually this phenotype graduated back into the public domain, except now it had the name Atlantic Giant on its record (see USDA PVP # 8500204).

Weigh-off competitions for giant pumpkins are a popular festival activity. The world record held at 460 pounds (208.65 kilograms) until 1981, when Howard Dill (of Nova Scotia) broke the record with a pumpkin near 500 pounds (226.80 kilograms). Dill patented the seeds used to grow this giant pumpkin, deeming them Dill’s Atlantic Giant seeds, and drawing growers from around the world. Dill is credited for all of the giant pumpkins today, most of which are borne from crossing and re-crossing his patented seed with other varieties.By 1994, the Giant pumpkin crossed the 1,000-pound (453.59-kilogram) mark. The current world record holder is Chris Stevens's 1,810-pound Atlantic Giant pumpkin, which in October 2010 surpassed Christy Harp's previous 2009 record of 1,725 pounds.

UsesCooking

Pumpkin, rawNutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 56 kJ (13 kcal)
Carbohydrates 6.5 g
- Sugars 1.36 g
- Dietary fiber 0.5 g
Fat 0.1 g
- saturated 0.05 g
- monounsaturated 0.01 g
- polyunsaturated 0.01 g
Protein 1.0 g
Vitamin A equiv. 369 μg (41%)
- beta-carotene 3100 μg (29%)
Thiamine (Vit. B1) 0.05 mg (4%)
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.110 mg (7%)

Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.6 mg (4%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.298 mg (6%)
Vitamin B6 0.061 mg (5%)
Folate (Vit. B9) 16 μg (4%)
Vitamin C 9 mg (15%)
Vitamin E 1.06 mg (7%)
Calcium 21 mg (2%)
Iron 0.8 mg (6%)
Magnesium 12 mg (3%)
Phosphorus 44 mg (6%)
Potassium 340 mg (7%)
Sodium 1 mg (0%)
Zinc 0.32 mg (3%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database


Pumpkins are very versatile in their uses for cooking. Most parts of the pumpkin are edible, including the fleshy shell, the seeds, the leaves, and even the flowers. In the United States, pumpkin is a very popular Halloween and Thanksgiving staple. Although most Americans use store-bought canned pumpkin,[citation needed] homemade pumpkin purée can serve the same purpose.

A can of pureed pumpkin, typically used as the main ingredient in pumpkin pie.

When ripe, the pumpkin can be boiled, baked, steamed, or roasted. In its native North America, it is a very important, traditional part of the autumn harvest, eaten mashed and making its way into soups and purees. Often, it is made into pie, various kinds of which are a traditional staple of the Canadian and American Thanksgiving holiday. In Mexico and the U.S., the seeds are often roasted and eaten as a snack.

Pumpkins that are still small and green may be eaten in the same way as squash or zucchini. In the Middle East, pumpkin is used for sweet dishes; a well-known sweet delicacy is called halawa yaqtin. In South Asian countries such as India, pumpkin is cooked with butter, sugar, and spices in a dish called kadu ka halwa. Pumpkin is used to make sambar in Udupi cuisine. In Guangxi province, China, the leaves of the pumpkin plant are consumed as a cooked vegetable or in soups. In Australia and New Zealand, pumpkin is often roasted in conjunction with other vegetables. In Japan, small pumpkins are served in savory dishes, including tempura. In Myanmar, pumpkins are used in both cooking and desserts (candied). The seeds are a popular sunflower seed substitute. In Thailand, small pumpkins are steamed with custard inside and served as a dessert. In Italy it can be used with cheeses as a savory stuffing for ravioli. Also, pumpkin can be used to flavor both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages.

In the southwestern United States and Mexico, pumpkin and squash flowers are a popular and widely available food item. They may be used to garnish dishes, and they may be dredged in a batter then fried in oil. Pumpkin leaves are a popular vegetable in the Western and central regions of Kenya; they are called seveve, and are an ingredient of mukimo,  respectively, whereas the pumpkin itself is usually boiled or steamed. The seeds are popular with children who roast them on a pan before eating them.

Extract

East China Normal University research on type-1 diabetic rats, published in July 2007, suggests that chemical compounds found in pumpkin promote regeneration of damaged pancreatic cells, resulting in increased bloodstream insulin levels. According to the research team leader, pumpkin extract may be "a very good product for pre-diabetic people, as well as those who already have diabetes," possibly reducing or eliminating the need for insulin injections for some type-1 diabetics. It is unknown whether pumpkin extract has any effect on diabetes mellitus type 2, as it was not the subject of the study.

Seeds
Main article: Pepita

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are small, flat, green, edible seeds. Most pumpkin seeds are covered by a white husk, although some pumpkin varieties produce seeds without them. Pumpkin seeds are a popular snack that can be found hulled or semi-hulled at most grocery stores. However, roasting pumpkin seeds (usually scooped out of jack-o-lanterns) is a popular Halloween treat. Pumpkin seeds have many health benefits, as they are a good source of protein, zinc, and other vitamins, and they are even said to lower cholesterol. One gram of pumpkin seed protein contains as much tryptophan as a full glass of milk. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and phytosterols.

Pumpkin seed oil

Pumpkin seed oil is a thick, green-red oil that is produced from roasted pumpkin seeds. When used for cooking or as a salad dressing, pumpkin seed oil is generally mixed with other oils because of its robust flavor. It is used in cooking in central and eastern Europe. It is considered a delicacy in

Austria, where a little is often added in traditional local cuisine on pumpkin soup and on potato salad. In some restaurants in Vienna, they propose even to add a few drops on vanilla ice cream. Long believed to be a folk remedy for prostate problems, it has been claimed to combat benign prostatic hyperplasia. Pumpkin seed oil contains essential fatty acids that help maintain healthy blood vessels, nerves and tissues.

Other uses

Canned pumpkin is often recommended by veterinarians as a dietary supplement for dogs and cats that are experiencing digestive problems. The high fiber content helps to aid proper digestion. Raw pumpkin can be fed to poultry, as a supplement to regular feed, during the winter to help maintain egg production, which usually drops off during the cold months.

The medicinal properties of pumpkin include anti-diabetic, antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory.

Varieties of sunflower

Varieties

The 'Teddy Bear' variety

The following are varieties of sunflowers (in alphabetical order):'American Giant Hybrid'
'Arnika'
'Autumn Beauty' (Autumnal colors)
                                                 sunflower- autumn beaty
'Aztec Sun'
'Black Oil'
'Dwarf Sunspot'
'Evening Sun'
                                                 sunflower- evening sun
'Giant Primrose'
'Indian Blanket Hybrid'
 'Irish Eyes'

                                              sunflower-irish eyes
'Italian White' 'Kong Hybrid'
'Large Grey Stripe'
'Lemon Queen' (Pale lemon)
                                               sunflower-lemon queen
'Mammoth Russian'
'Mongolian Giant'

                                              sunflower-mongolian giant
'Orange Sun'
                                            sunflower-orange sun
'Peach Passion'
'Peredovik'
                                             sunflower-peredovik
'Red Sun'
'Ring of Fire'
                                               sunflower- ring pf fire
'Rostov' 'Skyscraper'
'Soraya'
                                               sunflower-soraya
'Strawberry Blonde'
'Sunny Hybrid'
                                         sunflower- sunny hybrid
'Taiyo' (Orange-yellow, chocolate center)
'Tarahumara'
'Teddy Bear'
                                    sunflower - teddy bear
'Titan'
'Valentine'
'Velvet Queen' (red to dark claret, chocolate center)
                                               sunflower-velvet queen

'Yellow Empress'

Soya bean cultivation

The soybean (U.S.) or soya bean (UK) (Glycine max) is a species of legume native to East Asia, widely grown for its edible bean which has numerous uses. The plant is classed as an oilseed rather than a pulse.

Fat-free (defatted) soybean meal is a primary, low-cost, source of protein for animal feeds and most prepackaged meals; soy vegetable oil is another product of processing the soybean crop. For example, soybean products such as textured vegetable protein (TVP) are ingredients in many meat and dairy analogues. Soybeans produce significantly more protein per acre than most other uses of land.

Traditional nonfermented food uses of soybeans include soy milk, and from the latter tofu and tofu skin. Fermented foods include soy sauce, fermented bean paste, natto, and tempeh, among others. The oil is used in many industrial applications. The main producers of soy are the United States (35%), Brazil (27%), Argentina (19%), China (6%) and India (4%). The beans contain significant amounts of phytic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, and the isoflavones genistein and daidzein.

 The plant is sometimes referred to as greater bean ( Chinese dàdòu and Japanese daizu). Both immature soybean and its dish are called edamame in Japan, but in English, edamame refers only to a specific dish.

The English word "soy" is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of shōyu , the Japanese word for soya sauce; "soya" comes from the Dutch adaptation of the same word.

Classification

Varieties of soybeans are used for many purposes.

The genus name Glycine was originally introduced by Carl Linnaeus (1737) in his first edition of Genera Plantarum. The word glycine is derived from the Greek - glykys (sweet) and likely refers to the sweetness of the pear-shaped (apios in Greek) edible tubers produced by the native North American twining or climbing herbaceous legume, Glycine apios, now known as Apios americana. The cultivated soybean first appeared in Species Plantarum, by Linnaeus, under the name Phaseolus max L. The combination Glycine max (L.) Merr., as proposed by Merrill in 1917, has become the valid name for this useful plant.

The genus Glycine Willd. is divided into two subgenera, Glycine and Soja. The subgenus Soja (Moench) F.J. Herm. includes the cultivated soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr., and the wild soybean, Glycine soja Sieb. & Zucc. Both species are annuals. Glycine soja is the wild ancestor of Glycine max, and grows wild in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Russia. The subgenus Glycine consists of at least 16 wild perennial species: for example, Glycine canescens F.J. Herm. and G. tomentella Hayata, both found in Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Like some other crops of long domestication, the relationship of the modern soybean to wild-growing species can no longer be traced with any degree of certainty.

Description and physical characteristics

Soy varies in growth and habit. The height of the plant varies from below 20 cm (7.9 in) up to 2 metres (6.6 ft).

The pods, stems, and leaves are covered with fine brown or gray hairs. The leaves are trifoliolate, having three to four leaflets per leaf, and the leaflets are 6–15 cm (2.4–5.9 in) long and 2–7 cm (0.79–2.8 in) broad. The leaves fall before the seeds are mature. The inconspicuous, self-fertile flowers are borne in the axil of the

leaf and are white, pink or purple.

Small, purple soybean flowers

The fruit is a hairy pod that grows in clusters of three to five, each pod is 3–8 cm long (1–3 in) and usually

contains two to four (rarely more) seeds 5–11 mm in diameter.

Soybeans occur in various sizes, and in many hull or seed coat colors, including black, brown, blue, yellow, green and mottled. The hull of the mature bean is hard, water resistant, and protects the cotyledon and hypocotyl (or "germ") from damage. If the seed coat is cracked, the seed will not germinate. The scar, visible on the seed coat, is called the hilum (colors include black, brown, buff, gray and yellow) and at one end of the hilum is the micropyle, or small opening in the seed coat which can allow the absorption of water for sprouting.

Remarkably, seeds such as soybeans containing very high levels of protein can undergo desiccation, yet survive and revive after water absorption. A. Carl Leopold, son of Aldo Leopold, began studying this capability at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research at Cornell University in the mid 1980s. He found soybeans and corn to have a range of soluble carbohydrates protecting the seed's cell viability.

Patents were awarded to him in the early 1990s on techniques for protecting "biological membranes" and proteins in the dry state. Compare to tardigrades.

Chemical composition of the seed

Soybean, mature seeds, rawNutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 1,866 kJ (446 kcal)
Carbohydrates 30.16 g
- Sugars 7.33 g
- Dietary fiber 9.3 g
Fat 19.94 g
- saturated 2.884 g
- monounsaturated 4.404 g
- polyunsaturated 11.255 g

Protein 36.49 g
- Tryptophan 0.591 g
- Threonine 1.766 g
- Isoleucine 1.971 g
- Leucine 3.309 g
- Lysine 2.706 g
- Methionine 0.547 g
- Cystine 0.655 g
- Phenylalanine 2.122 g
- Tyrosine 1.539 g
- Valine 2.029 g
- Arginine 3.153 g
- Histidine 1.097 g
- Alanine 1.915 g
- Aspartic acid 5.112 g
- Glutamic acid 7.874 g
- Glycine 1.880 g
- Proline 2.379 g
- Serine 2.357 g
Water 8.54 g

Vitamin A equiv. 1 μg (0%)
Vitamin B6 0.377 mg (29%)
Vitamin B12 0 μg (0%)
Vitamin C 6.0 mg (10%)
Vitamin K 47 μg (45%)
Calcium 277 mg (28%)
Iron 15.70 mg (126%)
Magnesium 280 mg (76%)
Phosphorus 704 mg (101%)
Potassium 1797 mg (38%)
Sodium 2 mg (0%)
Zinc 4.89 mg (49%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.


Together, oil and protein content account for about 60% of dry soybeans by weight; protein at 40% and oil at 20%. The remainder consists of 35% carbohydrate and about 5% ash. Soybean cultivars comprise approximately 8% seed coat or hull, 90% cotyledons and 2% hypocotyl axis or germ.

Most soy protein is a relatively heat-stable storage protein. This heat stability enables soy food products requiring high temperature cooking, such as tofu, soy milk and textured vegetable protein (soy flour) to be made.

The principal soluble carbohydrates of mature soybeans are the disaccharide sucrose (range 2.5–8.2%), the trisaccharide raffinose (0.1–1.0%) composed of one sucrose molecule connected to one molecule of galactose, and the tetrasaccharide stachyose (1.4 to 4.1%) composed of one sucrose connected to two molecules of galactose. While the oligosaccharides raffinose and stachyose protect the viability of the soybean seed from desiccation (see above section on physical characteristics) they are not digestible sugars, and therefore contribute to flatulence and abdominal discomfort in humans and other monogastric animals; compare to the disaccharide trehalose. Undigested oligosaccharides are broken down in the intestine by native microbes, producing gases such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane.

Since soluble soy carbohydrates are found in the whey and are broken down during fermentation, soy concentrate, soy protein isolates, tofu, soy sauce, and sprouted soybeans are without flatus activity. On the other hand, there may be some beneficial effects to ingesting oligosaccharides such as raffinose and stachyose, namely, encouraging indigenous bifidobacteria in the colon against putrefactive bacteria.

The insoluble carbohydrates in soybeans consist of the complex polysaccharides cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectin. The majority of soybean carbohydrates can be classed as belonging to dietary fiber.

Nutrition
Further information: Soy protein

For human consumption, soybeans must be cooked with "wet" heat to destroy the trypsin inhibitors (serine protease inhibitors). Raw soybeans, including the immature green form, are toxic to humans, swine, chickens, and in fact, all monogastric animals.

Soybeans are considered by many agencies to be a source of complete protein. A complete protein is one that contains significant amounts of all the essential amino acids that must be provided to the human body because of the body's inability to synthesize them. For this reason, soy is a good source of protein, amongst many others, for vegetarians and vegans or for people who want to reduce the amount of meat they eat. According to the US Food and Drug Administration:

Soy protein products can be good substitutes for animal products because, unlike some other beans, soy offers a 'complete' protein profile. ... Soy protein products can replace animal-based foods—which also have complete proteins but tend to contain more fat, especially saturated fat—without requiring major adjustments elsewhere in the diet.

However, as with many dietary health claims, there are opposing viewpoints on the health benefits of soybeans.

The gold standard for measuring protein quality, since 1990, is the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) and by this criterion soy protein is the nutritional equivalent of meat, eggs, and casein for human growth and health. Soybean protein isolate has a biological value of 74, whole soybeans 96, soybean milk 91, and eggs 97.

Soy protein is essentially identical to that of other legume seeds. Moreover, soybeans can produce at least twice as much protein per acre than any other major vegetable or grain crop besides hemp, five to 10 times more protein per acre than land set aside for grazing animals to make milk, and up to 15 times more protein per acre than land set aside for meat production.

Consumption of soy may also reduce the risk of colon cancer, possibly due to the presence of sphingolipids.

Cultivation

Soybean output in 2005Top Soybean Producers
in 2008
(million metric tons)
United States 80.5
Brazil 59.9
Argentina 46.2
China 15.5
India 9.0
Paraguay 6.8
Canada 3.3
Bolivia 1.6
European Union 0.6
World Total 230.9





Soybeans are an important global crop, providing oil and protein. In the United States, the bulk of the crop is solvent-extracted with hexane, and the "toasted" defatted soymeal (50% protein) then makes possible the raising of farm animals (e.g. chicken, hog, turkey) on an industrial scale never before seen in human history. A very small proportion of the crop is consumed directly by humans. Soybean products do, however, appear in a large variety of processed foods.

During World War II, soybeans became important in both North America and Europe chiefly as substitutes for other protein foods and as a source of edible oil. During World War II, the soybean was discovered as fertilizer by the United States Department of Agriculture. In the 1960-1 Dillion round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the United States secured tariff-free access for its soybeans to the European market. In the 1960s, the United States exported over 90% of the world's soybeans. In 2005, top soybeans exporters are Brazil (39% of world soybean exports), United States (37%) and Argentina (16%), while top importers are China (41% of world soybean imports), European Union (22%), Japan (6%) and Mexico (6%).

Cultivation is successful in climates with hot summers, with optimum growing conditions in mean temperatures of 20 to 30 °C (68 to 86 °F); temperatures of below 20 °C and over 40 °C (68 °F, 104 °F) retard growth significantly. They can grow in a wide range of soils, with optimum growth in moist alluvial soils with a good organic content. Soybeans, like most legumes, perform nitrogen fixation by establishing a symbiotic relationship with the bacterium Bradyrhizobium japonicum (syn. Rhizobium japonicum; Jordan 1982). For best results, though, an inoculum of the correct strain of bacteria should be mixed with the soybean (or any legume) seed before planting. Modern crop cultivars generally reach a height of around 1 m (3.3 ft), and take 80–120 days from sowing to harvesting.

The U.S., Brazil, Argentina, China and India are the world's largest soybean producers and represent more than 90% of global soybean production. The U.S. produced 75 million tons of soybeans in 2000, of which more than one-third was exported. In the 2010-2011 production year, this figure is expected to be over 90 million tonnes.Other leading producers are Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, China, and India.

 The Environmental groups, such as Greenpeace and the WWF, have reported soybean cultivation and the probability of increased soybean cultivation in Brazil has destroyed huge areas of Amazon rainforest, and is encouraging further deforestation.

American soil scientist Dr. Andrew McClung, who first showed that the ecologically biodiverse savannah of the Cerrado region of Brazil could grow profitable soybeans, was awarded the 2006 World Food Prize on October 19, 2006. Unfortunately, it is turning into a Pandora's box.

Soybean plants are vulnerable to a wide range of bacterial diseases, fungal diseases, viral diseases and parasites.
Further information: List of soybean diseases

Genetic modification

Different varieties of soybeans being grown together
                                                             praparation of soya bean field
Soybeans are one of the "biotech food" crops that have been genetically modified, and genetically modified soybeans are being used in an increasing number of products. In 1995, Monsanto Company introduced Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans that have been genetically modified to be resistant to Monsanto's herbicide Roundup through substitution of the Agrobacterium sp. (strain CP4) gene EPSP (5-enolpyruvyl shikimic acid-3-phosphate) synthase. The substituted version is not sensitive to glyphosate.

In 1997, about 8% of all soybeans cultivated for the commercial market in the United States were genetically modified. In 2010, the figure was 93%. As with other "Roundup Ready" crops, concern is expressed over damage to biodiversity. A 2003 study concluded the RR gene had been bred into so many different soybean cultivars, there had been little decline in genetic diversity, but "diversity was limited among elite lines from some companies".

The widespread use of such types of GM soybeans in the Americas has caused problems with exports to some regions. GM crops require extensive certification before they can be legally imported into the European Union, where there is considerable supplier and consumer reluctance to use GM products for consumer or animal use. Difficulties with coexistence and subsequent traces of cross-contamination of non-GM stocks have caused shipments to be rejected and have put a premium on non-GM soy.
                                                                   harvesting of soysbeans
A 2006 United States Department of Agriculture report found the adoption of genetically engineered (GE) soy, corn and cotton reduced the amount of pesticides used overall, but did result in a slightly greater amount of herbicides used for soy specifically. The use of GE soy was also associated with greater conservation tillage, indirectly leading to better soil conservation, as well as increased income from off-farming sources due to the greater ease with which the crops can be managed. Most farmers adopted the GE crops to improve yields, save time and reduce the amount of money spent on pesticides. The use of GE soy also permits the use of a herbicide that is less toxic to humans. Though the overall estimated benefits of the adoption of GE soybeans in the United States was $310 million, the majority of this benefit was experienced by the companies selling the seeds (40%), followed by biotechnology firms (28%) and farmers (20%).

In 2010, a team of American scientists announced they had decoded the genome of the soybean - the first legume to be sequenced.