SEASONAL PRODUCE – Winter squash

Key information

Colour: orange, yellow or sometimes even green

In season: September–November

Grow me: winter squashes (such as pumpkins or butternut squash) take about 100 days to grow big enough to pick. They need a sunny spot, lots of water, and shelter from the wind. Seeds planted in May should be ready to harvest in time for Halloween in October!

Did you know?

  • Squash is one of the oldest farmed crops on earth. Archaeologists have found evidence of humans growing squash in Mexico and Peru almost 10,000 years ago!
  • The word squash comes from the Narragansett Native American word ‘askutasquash’. When translated, this means ‘eaten raw or uncooked’.
  • The squash family includes lots of different vegetables. When thinking about squash, people often think on the winter varieties, like pumpkins or butternut squash. However, did you know that summer vegetables such as courgette and cucumber are also types of squash?

Ideas garden
Remember to ask an adult's permission before experimenting with any squash ideas!

Get creative

The tradition of carving vegetable lanterns at Halloween started hundreds of years ago in Ireland, where people began to carve faces into turnips to scare away ghosts on All Hallows Eve (or Halloween). Pumpkins became the vegetable of choice after large numbers of Irish immigrants moved to America and found the (easier to carve) vegetable growing in large numbers!

There are lots of different ways to decorate your own Halloween lantern.

  • For detailed carved designs, remember to draw a template first. Create your face or pattern on a piece of paper, then tape the template to the pumpkin and mark out the carving line. Ask an adult to help you cut out your design.
  • Alternatively, for a ready-made shape, use a cookie cutter and a rubber mallet to help cut a pattern into your pumpkin. Remember, a pumpkin skin is tough, so choose thick and strong cutters for your design!
  • Once you’ve finished your carving, use coloured lights to help your pumpkin stand apart – try a red bike light set to flash for a spooky twist!
  • Instead of carving, how about painting your pumpkin, or decorating it with coloured paper, to create a pumpkin that will look scary both day and night! Just remember to first scoop out your pumpkin insides, so that you can still create some yummy pumpkin snacks!
  • Why stop at pumpkins? Remember the tradition of Halloween lanterns started with turnips, so how about exploring other vegetables? Have you tried a butternut squash lantern? Or, go small with a Halloween pepper, fruity with a carved pineapple or arty by drawing your design on an orange!

Get cooking

After carving a spook-tacular lantern, you’ll be ready to put your scooped-out squash to good use with these delicious pumpkin and butternut squash recipes. Get started with a coconut twist to the traditional pumpkin soup, before cooking up a nutritious main course of a butternut squash and bean chilli, or a tasty squash and lamb casserole.

Check out Get Set to Eat Fresh’s Healthy Halloween hints for more great recipe ideas and games!