Whats Growing On: Growing Pumpkins In North Central Florida

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - If you haven't already noticed, pumpkin-themed foods and drinks are invading our grocery stores and restaurants. Many of North Central Florida’s pumpkin patches and fall festivals will be opening their doors to the public this weekend, but not all farms that grow pumpkins grow the type you would expect to find at pumpkin patches.

Working Food and Grow Hub, located here in Gainesville, work closely with local farmers to get produce throughout the year, but right now they are preparing for fall by getting pumpkins.

Melissa DeSa, Community Programs Director at Working Food, says this year they got four different types of pumpkins from local farmers and they are all the same species, the Cucurbita Moschata.

On October 19th, these pumpkins will be used in recipes for tasting at the Pop-Up Fall Pumpkin Tasting Event hosted by Working Food. This event is intended to get more people interested in the foods and pumpkins that grow best in our area.

Ashley Rella, Culinary Programs Director at Working Food says, “one of the reasons for doing the pumpkin event is to make sure that we connect the farm to the community. Some of these items and varieties that the farmers are growing, we don’t want them to be alien to them. We want them to be familiar with them, taste them, enjoy them, and then consider picking them up from the farmers market and trying to play with them as well.“

If you are feeling like you missed out this year and are really craving some pumpkin and want to grow your own pumpkins next year, they need to be planted in the spring and are actually rather easy to grow.

DeSa says, “the nice thing about these ones is that they are a little tougher for our climate, so they don’t need a lot of pampering and they have developed some disease resistance and resistance to other pests that are a problem. They are not foolproof, but a great variety for the Southeast. The trick is if you are going to grow them at home in your backyard, they take up a lot of space.“

If you want to grow your own pumpkins in your backyard next year, you can find pumpkin seeds at a variety of seed companies here in North Central Florida.