Petha is a translucent soft candy from North India and Pakistan (Punjab region and metros). Usually rectangular or cylindrical, it is made from the ash gourd vegetable (also known as winter melon or white pumpkin, or simply petha in Hindi and Urdu).
Pumpkin is a squash like vegetable belonging to the family Cucurbitaceae. Though a fruit, not in the conventional sense that we have come to recognize them, it is considered a vegetable.
Pumpkins are easy to maintain if you have the space.
Common name: ash gourd, winter melon or white pumpkin, or simply petha in Hindi and Urdu
Difficulty level: Easy
Planting & Care
Sunlight: Full sun full sun
Soil: Requires well-drained soil, requires high fertility. Prefers well-drained, fertile, loose soil, high in organic matter with pH between 5.8 and 6.8. Plentiful and consistent moisture is needed from the time plants emerge until fruits begin to fill out.
Water: Water moderately
Temprature: Germination temperature: 60 F to 105 F - Will not germinate in cold soil. Wait to plant until soil reaches at least 65 F preferably 70 F or more. Germinates best at 95 F.
- If your growing season is very short, you ll need to start pumpkins ahead and seed indoors in peat pots about 2 to 4 weeks before last spring frost.
- (If you want pumpkins for Halloween but live in a colder climate, this may be your best bet.
- ) Harden off seedlings before transplanting outdoors.
- The soil must be thoroughly warmed.
- Optimal soil temperature for germination is 60° to 65ºF.
- Pumpkins are very sensitive to the cold.
- Pick a site with full sun (to light shade).
- Pumpkins are big greedy feeders.
- They prefer very rich soil that is well-drained and not too soggy.
- Select a site with lots of space for the sprawling vines.
- Vine varieties need 50 to 100 square feet per hill.
- However, if your garden space is limited, no worries! Plant pumpkins at the edge of the garden and direct vine growth across the lawn or sidewalk.
- The vines will only be bothersome for a few weeks.
- You can also grow pumpkins in big 5 to 10 gallon buckets! Or, try miniature varieties.
- The ideal pumpkin hill is prepared in advance with an abundance of old manure dug deep into the ground (12 to 15 inches).
- If you don t have manure, loosen the soil and mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost.
- Vine Varieties: Plant seeds 1 inch deep (4 or 5 seeds per hill).
- Plant hills about 5 feet apart.
- Rows should be about 12 feet apart.
- When the young plants are well-established, thin each hill to the best two or three plants.
- Bush Varieties: Plant seeds 1 inch deep, with 1 or 2 seeds per foot of row.
- Rows should be 6 feet apart.
- Thin to a single plant every 3 feet.
- Miniature Varieties: Plant seeds one inch deep, with 2 or 3 seeds every 2 feet in the row.
- Rows should be 6 to 8 feet apart.
- When the seedlings have their first true leaves, thin to the best plant every 2 feet.
Harvesting: Your best bet is to harvest pumpkins when they are mature. They will keep best this way. Do not pick pumpkins off the vine because they have reached your desired size. If you want small pumpkins, buy a small variety. A pumpkin is ripening when its skin turns a deep, solid color (orange for most varieties). When you thumb the pumpkin, the rind will feel hard and it will sound hollow. Press your nail into the pumpkin s skin; if it resists puncture, it is ripe. To harvest the pumpkin, cut the fruit off the vine carefully with a sharp knife or pruners; do not tear. Be sure not to cut too close to the pumpkin; a liberal amount of stem (3 to 4 inches) will increase the pumpkin s keeping time. Handle pumpkins very gently or they may bruise. Pumpkins should be cured in the sun for about a week to toughen the skin and then stored in a cool, dry bedroom or cellar—anywhere around 55ºF. If you get a lot of vines and flowers but no pumpkins, you need more bees in your garden to pollinate the flowers. Grow some colorful flowers next to your pumpkin patch this year and you may get more bees and butterflies!
- Pumpkins are very thirsty plants and need lots of water.
- Water one inch per week.
- Water deeply, especially during fruit set.
- When watering: Try to keep foliage and fruit dry unless it’s a sunny day.
- Dampness will make rot more likely.
- Pumpkins are also greedy eaters.
- A regular treatment of manure or compost mixed with water will sustain good growth.
- Fertilize on a regular basis.
- Use a high nitrogen formula in early plant growth.
- Fertilize when plants are about one foot tall, just before vines begin to run.
- Switch over to a fertilizer high in phosphorous just before the blooming period.
- Remember that pumpkins are tender from planting to harvest.
- Control weeds with mulch.
- Do not overcultivate, or their very shallow roots may be damaged.
- Most small vine varieties can be trained up a trellis.
- Larger varieties can be trained upward on a trellis, too—though it is an engineering challenge to support the fruit—usually with netting or old stockings.
- Pinch off the fuzzy ends of each vine after a few pumpkins have formed.
- This will stop vine growth so that the plant s energies are focused on the fruit.
- If your first flowers aren t forming fruits, that s normal.
- Both male and female blossoms need to open.
- Be patient.
- Bees are essential for pollination, so be mindful when using insecticides to kill pests.
- If you must use, apply only in late afternoon or early evening when blossoms are closed for the day.
- Pumpkin vines, though obstinate, are very delicate.
- Take care not to damage vines, which reduces the quality of fruit.
- Pruning the vines may help with space as well as allow the plant s energy to be concentrated on the remaining vines and fruit.
- Gardeners who are looking for a "prize for size" pumpkin might select the two or three prime candidates and remove all other fruit and vines.
- As the fruit develops, they should be turned (with great care not to hurt the vine or stem) to encourage an even shape.
- Slip a thin board or a piece of plastic mesh under the pumpkins.
Its preparation as an anthelmintic consist of mixing 100-200 g of peeled pumpkin seeds (without testa) with honey or syrup (up to 100 ml) and gradually taken over the course of 1 hour.
After 3 hours it should be taken some type of laxative to expel parasites. It has been very helpful in removing the Taenia Solium and Taenia Saginata.
Another use of the pumpkin is as anti-inflammatory for cystitis, prostatitis, in particular for preventing or treating prostate cancer and also for insomnia.
The pulp either raw or cooked is used as emulsifier.
From the pumpkin seeds is extracted an oil very good for household and medicinal uses.
The seed has refreshing and soothing properties, is given as "seed milk" for nephritis and inflammation of the bladder and urethra.
- Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
- Heart Healthy Magnesium
One-quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium, which participates in a wide range of vitally important physiological functions, including the creation of ATP , the synthesis of RNA and DNA, the pumping of your heart, proper bone and tooth formation, relaxation of your blood vessels, and proper bowel function.
Magnesium has been shown to benefit your blood pressure and help prevent sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack, and stroke, yet an estimated 80 percent of Americans are deficient in this important mineral.
- Zinc for Immune Support
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc (one ounce contains more than 2 mg of this beneficial mineral).
- Zinc is important to your body in many ways, including immunity, cell growth and division, sleep, mood, your senses of taste and smell, eye and skin health, insulin regulation, and male sexual function.
Many are deficient in zinc due to mineral-depleted soils, drug effects, plant-based diets, and other diets high in grain.
- This deficiency is associated with increased colds and flu, chronic fatigue, depression, acne, low birth weight babies, learning problems and poor school performance in children, among others.
- Plant-Based Omega-3 Fats
Raw nuts and seeds, including pumpkin seeds, are one of the best sources of plant-based omega-3s (alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)).
- We all need ALA, however, ALA has to be converted by your body into the far more essential omega-3 fats EPA and DHA — by an enzyme in which the vast majority of us have impaired by high insulin levels.
- So, while pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of ALA, I believe it is essential to get some of your omega-3 fats from animal sources, such as krill oil, as well.
- Prostate Health
Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as an important natural food for men’s health.
- This is in part because of their high zinc content, which is important for prostate health (where it is found in the highest concentrations in the body), and also because pumpkin seed extracts and oils may play a role in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or enlarged prostate).
- Research suggests that both pumpkin seeds,2 and pumpkin seed oil used in combination with saw palmetto may be particularly beneficial in supporting prostate health.
- Anti-Diabetic Effects
Animal studies suggest that pumpkin seeds may help improve insulin regulation and help prevent diabetic complications by decreasing oxidative stress.
- Benefits for Postmenopausal Women
Pumpkin seed oil is rich in natural phytoestrogens and studies suggest it may lead to a significant increase in good “HDL” cholesterol along with decreases in blood pressure, hot flashes, headaches, joint pains and other menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women.
- Heart and Liver Health
Pumpkin seeds, rich in healthy fats, antioxidants and fibers, may provide benefits for heart and liver health, particularly when mixed with flax seeds.
- Tryptophan for Restful Sleep
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid (protein building block) that your body converts into serotonin, which in turn is converted into melatonin, the “sleep hormone.
- ” Eating pumpkin seeds a few hours before bed, along with a carbohydrate like a small piece of fruit, may be especially beneficial for providing your body the tryptophan needed for your melatonin and serotonin production to help promote a restful night’s sleep.
- Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Pumpkin seed oil has been found to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects.
- One animal study even found it worked as well as the anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin in treating arthritis, but without the side effects.