Apartment plants

Ornamental pumpkins

Types of pumpkins

We have just passed the Halloween celebrations and we all still have in mind the large orange-colored round pumpkins, carved to reproduce a smiling and flamboyant face. But these are not the only pumpkins grown. The most widespread in our gardens are attributable to the Cucurbita Maxima (round) and Cucurbita Mochata (elongated), that is to say the classic winter pumpkins widely used in gastronomy and nutrition (see also the Zucca tab in the vegetable section). However, there are also varieties used for ornamental purposes, deriving from the Maxima, the Mochata and the Lagenaria cucurbita (they have the shape of a flask) which was used, once dry, as a container for wine, water or salt by the legionaries or by the Romans. pilgrims. Among the natives of the Amazon, this type of pumpkin is used to make musical instruments (maracas) for tribal rituals or as a container for objects.

Pumpkin varieties

The plants of different varieties and those obtained from crosses over the years, are all united by a similar structure: superficial ramified roots, creeping or climbing stem, very voluminous opposite leaves characterized by long petioles. They have showy yellow unisexual flowers, that is to say only male and only female, but both present on the same plant. They give rise to a fruit, called Peponide which is differentiated by various characteristics within the different varieties:
· Fruit shape (round or elongated)
· Fruit size (large or small)
· Surface of the peel (wrinkled, grooved, smooth)
· Skin color (from green to dark orange, both uniform and melange)
· Color of the pulp (yellow-green, orange)
We want to remember that the name Zucca is believed to derive from the Latin "cocutia" meaning "head", then transformed over the centuries into "cocuzza", "cozucca" and finally into Zucca. In the various regions it also has various denominations: Suca (Piedmont), Zuca (Veneto), Zucchet (Emilia), Cozucca (Tuscany), Cocuzza (Abruzzo), Cocozzenella (Campania), Cucuzzara (Calabria) and Cocuzza di Spagna (Sicily). The cultivation of ornamental varieties has been practiced for some time, as a marginal activity of the garden, in Lombardy and in Emilia, where artificial devices were also used (tying the fruit in growth) to amplify the extravagance of the forms. Lately there is a rapid spread of ornamental pumpkins, there are over 300 different types, above all because they are an elegant and colorful decorative element for compositions and for table centerpiece in the autumn-winter period and Christmas festivities. In fact, there are more and more shops selling flowers and objects of furniture that offer these "vegetables" as an alternative to cut flowers.

Decorative pumpkins

An example of the ornamental spread of the Cucurbita is given by the classic orange pumpkin lit by the candle for Halloween, a tradition imported from the Celtic culture, which however finds ample evidence in the rural tradition of northern Italy (Veneto).
Now let's take a quick look at the main types of ornamental pumpkins:
· Klein bicolor: small pumpkins (8-12 cm in diameter) in the shape of a flask with a variegated green lower part and a gold-yellow upper part.
· Klein birne bicolor: small pumpkins (8-12 cm in diameter) in the shape of a pear with the lower part uniform green and the upper part yellow.
· Cou-tors Hative: small pumpkins (20 cm long) in the shape of a small swan with an intense orange color
· Baby boo: small pumpkins (10 cm in diameter) in the shape of a small white ribbed ball with a smooth skin.
· Turban or mini turban: small pumpkins with top covering in various colors (white, yellow, red and green).
· Kleine orangen: small orange-shaped pumpkins with orange and smooth skin ...
· Kleine Warzen: small pumpkins (10-15 cm in diameter) in the shape of a ball with a multicolored and lumpy skin.
· Ten commandments: small crown-shaped pumpkins, with more or less long and curved protuberances in different color combinations.
· Trombetta d'albenga: climbing pumpkin in the shape of a small club
· Pergola snake of Sicily: snake-shaped
· Fisherman's flask: pumpkin with a waterproof skin used in the past as a container for liquids
· Berretta Piacentina and Marina di Chioggia: suitable in gastronomy for tortelli and risotto
· Atlantic giant and Big Max: giant orange pumpkins

Ornamental pumpkins: Cultivation of ornamental pumpkins

The crop cycle of these plants is annual and is adapted to cultivation throughout Italy. They require fresh, deep and well-drained soils to avoid having rot at the roots or at the collar (point between stem and roots). The temperature must be higher than 5-7 ° C, the summer temperature of 25-30 ° C is optimal. In spring, April-May, after carefully preparing the soil of the garden (digging, mineral and organic fertilization, hoeing and final refinement with the rake) it is sown. You can use seeds from the previous year or from past years (they remain active even for 3-4 years) placing 2-3 in holes spaced between them 2m x 1m, at a depth of 3-4 cm. Put the holes very far apart because the pumpkin plant grows a lot and quickly occupies the available space. After a couple of weeks the seedlings will be born and when they will be franked they will be kept only 1 per hole (the most developed and robust). During cultivation, weeds must be removed, irrigated during the hottest periods and fertilized periodically. These plants are very sensitive to fungal diseases, for this reason we must be careful not to wet them excessively at the time of irrigation and perform periodic treatments with covering fungicides (the classic cupric) after particularly wet periods.
After 130-150 days the fruits are obtained ready to be harvested, so starting from September you can start to collect the first productions. Once harvested, fruits can beautify and brighten up our homes gathered in vases, terracotta bowls, ceramic baskets, glass centerpieces for a period of 2-4 months.