Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

Pumpkin Glossary

Use this Glossary to get quick definitions or explanations of terms and concepts used in this Collection—or terms that you might encounter while managing your pumpkin patch.

Pumpkin-specific gardening terms:

Aspen: This large pumpkin weighs between 18 and 20 pounds. It’s a great choice for making soups and breads.

Autumn Gold: This mid-size pumpkin usually weighs around 10 pounds. It’s an award-winning variety that matures in only 90 days.

Baby Boo: These tiny, white, specialty pumpkins usually weigh less than a pound.

Baby Pam:  This pie pumpkin variety is a consistent and prolific grower, producing pumpkins that typically weigh in at 2 pounds.  Baby Pam pumpkins make great pies.

Big Max: This giant pumpkin weighs between 50 to 100 pounds, looks great on display, but can also be used for canning.

Big Moon: This giant pumpkin weighs between 40 and 200 pounds and is a great show specimen. It is not great for eating.

Casper: These specialty pumpkins usually weigh between 10 and 20 pounds. Caspar pumpkins have white skin that is perfect for painting.

Cinderella: This pie pumpkin variety typically weighs in at 25 pounds and look like the pumpkin used for Cinderella’s carriage.

Connecticut Field (Big Tom): This large pumpkin weighs between 20 and 25 pounds. It’s considered America’s iconic pumpkin and is good for carving and canning.

Dill’s Atlantic Giant: This giant pumpkin weighs between 100 and 900 pounds. It’s the type of pumpkin you see winning blue ribbons at state fairs.

Giant Pumpkins: These pumpkins are usually grown just for show and are not used for baking and cooking. The average weight for a giant pumpkin is between 40 and 900 pounds.

Half Moon: This large pumpkin weighs between 14 and 16 pounds. It has thick flesh and is good for cooking purposes.

Harvest Moon: This mid-size pumpkin usually weighs between 10 and 18 pounds. It’s a solid pumpkin with a good stem handle.

Howden: This large pumpkin usually weighs around 20 pounds. It’s a very traditional jack-o’-lantern variety, with skin that is dark orange.

Jack-B-Little: These specialty pumpkins have orange skin and usually weigh less than a pound.

Jack-B-Quick: These specialty pumpkins usually weigh less than a pound.  Their orange skin is more ribbed than Jack-B-Little.

Jackpot: This mid-size pumpkin usually weighs between 10 and 18 pounds. This medium orange variety is good for cooking and carving.

Large Pumpkins: These pumpkins are big enough for some “wow!” factor, but not so big that you can’t harvest them yourself. Some are good for carving; others are good for eating.

Lumina: These specialty pumpkins can weigh between 10 and 15 pounds. With white skin, Lumina pumpkins are great for painting and carving but they can also be used for baking.

Magic Lantern: This mid-size pumpkin usually weighs between 16 and 20 pounds. It’s a dark orange pumpkin that is somewhat resistant to powdery mildew.

Mid-Size Pumpkins: These pumpkins are mostly for display or carving. They are a good size if you want a hefty pumpkin that’s not too big.

Munchkin: These specialty pumpkins have medium-orange skin and usually weigh less than a pound. They are perfect for decoration.

Pie Pumpkins: This type of pumpkin often has darker, thicker flesh than carving pumpkins. The flesh is also more dense and less stringy. When you pick up a pie pumpkin it should feel heavy for its size.

Prizewinner: This giant pumpkin weighs between 50 and 100 pounds. It’s a dependable grower and looks great on display.

Small Sugar: These pie pumpkins usually weigh between 5 and 6 pounds.  Small Sugar pumpkins are very popular for pies and canning.

Specialty Pumpkins: These ornamental pumpkins are best used for decorating purposes and not suitable for cooking and canning.

Spirit: This mid-size pumpkin usually weighs between 10 and 12 pounds. It’s an award-winning variety that is good for pies and carving.

Spookie: This pie pumpkin variety can produce a high yield of 5 to 6 pound pumpkins that are great for pies.

Trick or Treat: This mid-size pumpkin usually weighs between 10 and 12 pounds. Trick or Treat pumpkins are good for pies and carving.

Trickster: These pie pumpkins usually weigh between 2 and 3 pounds.  Trickster pumpkins can be used for cooking and also for decoration.

General gardening terms:

Antioxidant: A substance that inhibits damage to the body caused by the release of free radicals. The anthocyanin in blueberries is considered a powerful antioxidant.

Bacillus thuringiensis: A natural pesticide useful against a number of pests. BT is common soil bacteria that have been used as microbial insecticides for the last century. They can be used on foliage, food storage facilities, soil, or water environments. BT occur naturally, affect very specific insects, and are relatively inexpensive and safe for humans, birds, fish, and most beneficial insects. However, for them to work effectively, you need to know what type of insect you want to target and make sure that you buy a strain that will kill that particular species.

Biennial: Plants that form leaves in the first growing season, and flowers and seeds in the second growing season. After that, the plants die.

Brassicas: A genus of plants in the mustard family that includes cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and mustard—foods rich in vitamins and minerals.

Borage: A plant with blue flowers that grows wild in some areas. Its leaves, flowers, and stalks are edible and taste a little like cucumber. Borage leaves are good in salads, yogurt, or cream cheese mixtures, or go well when served with shellfish.

Cultivar: A cultivated variety of a plant produced by selective breeding. A cultivar may not produce true-to-seed. Growers who want to retain the characteristics of a cultivar in future plantings should propagate new plantings from cuttings.

Cultural care: Good cultural practices include providing plants the best possible growing situation: proper spacing, watering, staking or trellising, sanitation, mulching, fertilization and general maintenance practices.

Dormant: This is the period of time when a fruit tree’s buds are relatively inactive. This is also called the overwintering stage.

Extension service: A service that extends information to users including farmers, growers, and homeowners. The Cooperative Extension Service (CES) is a publicly funded research and education network linking the resources of federal (U.S. Department of Agriculture), state (land-grant universities), and local (county) governments. Google “extension service” to find your local service.

Free radical: An especially reactive atom or group of atoms with one or more unpaired electrons. Free radicals produced in the body by biological processes (breathing, digesting, exercising) or from the environment (tobacco smoke, toxins, pollutants) can cause damage to cells, proteins, and DNA by changing their chemical structure.

Fungicide: A specific type of pesticide that controls fungal disease by specifically inhibiting or killing the fungus causing the disease.

Grafting: This is a horticultural technique used to join parts from two or more plants so that they appear to grow as a single plant. In grafting, the upper part (scion) of one plant grows on the root system (rootstock) of another plant.

Hod: A portable trough, often used for carrying gardening supplies and materials around your garden.

Horticultural oil: An oil-based pesticide mixed with water that is made of some type of mineral or vegetable oil and is safe for use on food crops

Nasturtiums: A genus of about 80 species of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants that are often used as edible and decorate items in culinary dishes. Nasturtiums are sometimes used as companion plants for biological pest control, repelling some pests, acting as a trap crop for others and attracting predatory insects. Nasturtium plant varieties include Alaska, Black Velvet, Empress of India, Orchid Flame, and Purple Emperor.

Neem oil: A naturally occurring pesticide found in seeds from the neem tree. It is yellow to brown, has a bitter taste, and a garlic/sulfur smell. It has been used for hundreds of years to control pests and diseases.

NPK: The three numbers on fertilizer represent the percentage of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) that compose complete fertilizers.

Perennial: Plants that grow for more than two growing seasons.

Perlite: An amorphous volcanic glass that has a relatively high water content, typically formed by the hydration of obsidian. It occurs naturally and has the unusual property of greatly expanding when heated sufficiently. When in pebble-like form and mixing with gardening soil, perlite makes for a great aerating and moisturizing agent, as well as providing well-drained soil.

Plug: A section of a plant cut out using a circular tool like a golf hole cutter or a bulb planter. This gives you a cutting of the plant that includes part of the root system. Most commonly used with wild lowbush blueberry plants.

Pollination: The process of transferring pollen from the male part of flowers (anthers) to the female part of the flowers (stigma). Pollination is most often accomplished by insects—primarily bees.

Propagation: The process which grows new plants from a variety of sources, such as seeds, cuttings, and other plant parts

Pyrethrin: Pyrethrins are a class of organic compounds normally derived from Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium that have potent insecticidal activity by targeting the nervous systems of insects.

Rhizome: An underground runner or stem of a plant that stores extra nutrients and eventually develops roots and stems identical to its parent plant. This allows the plant to spread out.

Self-fertile, Self-fruitful, self-pollinating: Plants that do not need pollinators in order to reproduce. Self-pollinating plants have flowers with both male and female parts.

Self-sterile: A plant that needs a second plant of a different variety with which to cross-pollinate.

Soil pH: A measure of the acidic or basic (alkaline) level of soil. Blueberry plants require acidic soil in order to thrive; a pH of 4.0 to 4.8 is ideal for blueberry plants. A neutral pH (neither acidic nor alkaline) is 7 on a 14-point scale.

Soilless growing medium: Common soilless growing mediums include peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, and sand.

Spade fork: A gardening tool that looks like a broad-tined, short pitchfork; used to turn soil and mix with compost and other soil mixes.

Spinosad: A natural substance made by a soil bacterium that can be toxic to insects. It is used to control a wide variety of pests including thrips, leafminers, spider mites, mosquitoes, ants, fruit flies, and others.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: The standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. USDA has a zoned map, based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree Fahrenheit zones.

Variety: A group of plants selected for particular characteristics and which usually produces true-to-seed.

Widger: A spatula-like gardening tool for lifting plant seedlings without damaging them.

Are there any pumpkin-gardening terms or concepts that you need explained? Please tell us something about pumpkins that you need fully explained.



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