Pumpkin, Squash & Zucchini (Curcubita spp.)

It makes sense to group these three plants together since they all belong to same Family, the Curcubitaceae family, and they are able to cross-fertilize. It can all get a bit confusing when it comes to naming but we’ll have a go. What we call pumpkin, the Americans call winter squash. The small yellow- and green-colored squash called “sunburst squash” or “white squash” in Australia are called “scallop squash” in America and are grouped with zucchini as “summer squash”. Both zucchini and yellow (scallop) squash belong to the species Curcubita pepo. Then there are the myriad of other “squashes” available that are too numerous to account for here.
Pumpkins also have many varieties and can belong to the species C. pepo or C. moschate or C. maxima. Butternut (C. moschata) and Jap (also C. moschata) are the two most common pumpkins that are

Consumed in Australia.
Whatever you call them, the thing these Curcubita species share in common that they grow as a rambling vine over a large area. These plants were domesticated in Central America as far back as 10,000years ago and were taken by Portuguese and Spanish explorers to many parts of the world, where they have remained popular ever since. Interestingly, while pumpkin has been consumed for over 10,000 years, it was First cultivated specifically For its seeds since earlier squash did not contain much Flesh, and what they did contain was very bitter and unpalatable.

Your healing Curcubita
Zucchini and sunburst squash are an excellent source of manganese, vitamin C and antioxidant nutrients including lutein and zeaxanthin. They also provide a range of B vitamins.
The very color of a pumpkin is a pointer to its rich carotenoid content. In Fact, one cup of pumpkin contains more than 10,000 IU (international units) of vitamin A and also has around 20mg of vitamin C. That cup of pumpkin will also provide you with approximately 340 milligrams oFomega-3 Fats in the form of alpha-linoienic acid. So pumpkin is quite a good nutritional Food although in recent times its reputation has been tarnished somewhat You might have heard that pumpkin is a high “glycaemic index food”. The glycaemic index (GI) describes a Food's ability to raise blood glucose levels relative to glucose itself. Glucose has a Gl
of 100 and pumpkin has a high Gl of 75. People wanting to lose weight and manage blood sugar levels have been wary of pumpkin For this reason but that fear appears to have been unwarranted. What the Gl does not take into account is how much carbohydrate a normal serve of any given Food contains. A Food may contain carbohydrates that will raise blood glucose levels but a normal serve of that food may only contain small quantities of carbohydrates and such is the case with pumpkin. The figure that has been developed to allow For this is "glycaemic load” (GL). So while pumpkin has a Gl of 75 a normal serving size of pumpkin is 80g, making the available carbohydrate per serve only 4g. GL is calculated as the Gl multiplied by the amount of carbohydrate per serve in grams and then divided by 100. This gives a GL score for pumpkin of 3 which is very low.

Snack Food heaven
One of the best things about pumpkins is that you have virtually no waste and are able to use most of the plant because pumpkin seeds are a very healthy snack.
Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as a special source of the mineral zinc, and the World Health Organization recommends their consumption as a good way of obtaining this nutrient. Under the seed coat or husk is a very thin layer called the endosperm envelope, and it is often pressed up very tightly against the seed coat. Zinc is especially concentrated in this endosperm envelope so it is best to leave the husk on when roasting your pumpkin seeds. Whole roasted, unshelled pumpkin seeds contain about 10 milligrams of zinc per 100 grams.
To roast your pumpkin seeds just scoop the pulp and seeds from inside the pumpkin and separate out the seeds. Put the seeds on a single layer cooking pan and roast them at a low temperature of about 75°C in the oven for 15-20 minutes. By roasting them For a relatively short time at a low temperature you minimize damage to the healthy oils in the seeds. Linoleic acid (the polyunsaturated omega-6 Fatty acid) and oleic acid (the same monounsaturated fatty acid that is plentiful in olive oil) account for about 75 per cent of the fat found in the seeds.

Pumpkin Soil Detox
Research published in the International Journal of Phytoremediation has shown that pumpkin can be an effective crop for use in remediation of contaminated soils. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), including pyrene, fluoranthene, chrysene, benzo(a)anthracene and benzo(a)pyrene are unwanted contaminants. PAHs are among the contaminants that can be effectively pulled up out of the soil by pumpkin plants. You definitely do not want to transfer soil contaminants like PAHs up into your food, so we are not suggesting that you plant a pumpkin crop in contaminated soil and then eat the pumpkins! However, this does illustrate that pumpkin might be a useful way to remediate damaged soil beyond home gardens.

Grow Your Curcubita
When to plant: Sow pumpkins when soil temperatures are above 18°C. In cooler areas start seedlings in warm position and plant out after frost danger has passed. Plant zucchini and squash in spring and summer.

Climate: Pumpkins grows across a range of climates throughout Australia, but they don't like high humidity. Squash and zucchini require similar climates.

Aspect/placement: Likes full sun. and plenty of room, or grow on a trellis.

Specific needs: Plant pumpkin, squash and zucchini in rich, free-draining soil. Prepare well with well-rotted manure and compost. Mulch with pea straw or lucerne to help soil retain moisture and to keep fruit off the ground. Keep water up to plants when fruiting. Plants bear separate male and female flowers on the same plant and are insect-pollinated. Pumpkins sometimes need hand pollination. Pick male flowers  identified as being the ones with smaller stems -and brush inside female Rowers that have just started opening.

Companion planting: Sweetcorn.
Harvesting: Zucchinis are prolific fruiters so pick regularly before the fruits grow to become large, tasteless and tough
Squash are also yummy when they are picked young and tender. Most pumpkins need at least = 12 weeks of warm conditions to mature. Harvest when the stalk becomes woody, and be sure to cut them from the vine, leaving as long a stalk as possible so they keep longer. Try cooking the flowers too.

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