Pumpkin, Squash, and Gourds

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Many of these projects can use gourds, pumpkin, or other squash interchangeably, but some are fruit specific so definitely check out the links listed. Enjoy!

Make Musical Instruments
Get creative and make shakers, maracas, drums, or even banjoes! This Website has everything you need to know about creating and caring for your gourd music makers!

Make a Bird House
This is a fun way to get your children interested in observing the natural inhabitants of your back yard, and they will be ecstatic to have the opportunity to keep their little flying friends warm as the cold weather sets in. Visit Amish Gourds for tips on how to begin and for supplies.

Make a Snowman
Speaking of cold weather, this project will have them day dreaming about wintry adventures all the way up to the first snow. Get ideas here.

Eat Them
Mmmm! Pumpkin pies, breads, soups, and more! There's almost no end to what can be done with squash in the kitchen. Get great recipes at Epicurean.

Decoupage Them
If you have a little one who just can't get enough of gluing things together, have them cut out pictures in a theme and make their own three-dimensional pumpkin or squash collage! See an example here.

Make a Gourd Ghost
One of many things you can do with fruit and a little bit of paint, have them create your front porch Halloween decorations using gourds or squash! Here's a ghost to begin with.

Carve Them
The internet makes making a jack-o-lantern or squash-o-lantern a cinch with printable pattern ideas. Find some here and here (scroll down for free patterns or order the pattern book). Check out her home page at http://www.pumpkinlady.com/ for more fun info also!

Make a Bowl
This Fall project using a sturdy dried gourd could be
craft or art! Either way it will last for years to come. Directions here.

Make Candles
Candle making may already be something your family does together, but even if it's not, this fun twist on a wonderful hobby is just right for these upcoming months. I have found two different tutorials, one at
kids crafts and one at homeschoolzone. Use one or both!

Bake the Seeds
Did you know that you can bake butternut or acorn squash seeds just like you do pumpkin? A little salt and olive oil to coat lightly and a baking at about 275 degrees for 15 or so minutes will give your family a bowl full of yummy and healthy snack for after school munchies or to put in sack lunches.

Make a Pumpkin Seed Flower
To get your littlest ones involved you may have to give them something a little smaller than a giant pumpkin to work with. Pumpkin seeds are great for art projects, check out this idea.

Dress Them Up
Have your kids design their very own Halloween costume for a squash, or create a miniature of their own. The possibilities are endless.

Make a Purse
This one might take more than a little guidance, but it's a wonderful ideas! Visit Martha's Gourds to find out more.

Candle Holder
Some people use decorative squash as a dining room table centerpiece. Take it one step further and make it a candle lit dinner! Here's the tutorial.

Make Dolls
Check out this website full of inspiring professionally painted and decorated gourd dolls, maybe your child could be the next Diane Piccola!

Make a "gourd dog"
Are your kids always begging for a(nother) pet?? Have them give this (much quieter) alternative a try.

Make Pumpkin Candy
An old Pueblo recipe with a tad more nutritional value than most Halloween candy!

Dry Strips of Squash
Native Americans traditionally dried pumpkin to eat as pumpkin leathers or even pounded the strips and wove them into mats!

Make Shoes
I can't guarantee that these would be comfortable, but this is a fun and educational project nonetheless. Here are instructions for shoes.

Use Them as Soup Bowls
You've heard of soup in a bread bowl! Soup in a pie pumpkin or acorn squash makes the whole table festive. Pureed squash makes a wonderful soup, too! Here's a whole slew of soup recipes.


How To Grow A Very Big Pumpkin

With some patience, you can grow a giant pumpkin, ready to show off come Halloween. You just need to start in May to make it in time.

The process is pretty straightforward, and it goes like this:
1. It all starts with genetics. Big pumpkins come from big pumpkins, and there's no getting around it. So hop on down to your local nursery and purchase seeds specifically for growing large pumpkins.

2. Dig a bushel basket-sized hole, fill it with very rich manure or compost, then cover with a 6 inch layer of black dirt.

3. Plant 3 seeds 1 inch deep. After they sprout a few leaves, remove the 2 smallest plants.

4. When 3 pumpkins begin to develop, remove any additional female flowers. These are the ones with the pumpkin-shaped bulge immediately behind them.

5. When the 3 pumpkins are softball-sized, remove the 2 smallest. The remaining pumpkin with be the champ in a few short months.

6. Keep this winner weeded, well-watered and fertilized with a high phosphorous fertilizer.

7. Harvest the beast before the first hard frost (keep on top of your local weatherman), leaving the stem attached. Place it in a warm room for a week, then store it in a cool place until you're ready to carve it, should you have the heart. If it's blue ribbon-sized, you might want to take it to your local country fair and see how it stacks up to the competition. Good luck!

For more info, The Pumpkin Patch is a great site to visit. You can also buy some seeds with a lineage of big pumpkin genes.