SQUASHES AND PUMPKINS.
Professor Bailey, in his "Lessons with Plants," tells us how to distinguish a pumpkin from a squash at a glance. Look at the stem. Does it flare at the point where it joins the fruit? Is it a ridged and furrowed stem? Then the fruit it bears is a pumpkin. Is the stem soft, spongy, and cylindrical, not enlarged at the junction with the fruit? These are the characteristics of the stem of a squash. Such stems have the Hubbard and turban varieties. The large cheese pumpkin, Japanese pumpkins, and the cushaws show this flare. But the sweet, summer pumpkin does not. Its hard, ridged stem is the tell-tale pumpkin trademark.
The only disconcerting feature of this con venient classification is the fact that the crook neck and patty-pan squashes line up among the pumpkins, and the big Chili pumpkins are squashes! So when we make a pumpkin pie it may turn out to be a squash pie, judged by strictly botanical standards. By any name it is good enough for hungry Americans in the middle of a hard day's work, corn-husking in the fall of the year. On the Thanksgiving dinner table no distinction is made between pumpkin and squash pie.
But the botanist has the best of the argument at last, because the group he calls pumpkins may be planted alongside of squashes and they will not intercross, as do the varieties within the two groups.
"Gourd" is the European name for all the pepo fruits. "Pumpkin" is the name given to the huge varieties. The English "marrows" we know as summer squashes, the soft-fleshed, delicately flav ored members of the group.
In California all kinds of squashes and pumpkins grow to large size. Single specimens have been exhibited that weighed over 300 pounds, and accredited yields have gone above thirty tons to the acre in an ordinary season. Fifty feet of vine and a wagonload of fruit will be the yield of a well-tilled vine.
Professor Wickson, dean of the State College of Agriculture, has published the following report received from a farmer in Santa Barbara County, and thereby he vouches for the truth of the story: "1 planted my squashes in May, and harvested them in October. Finding that they were un usually large, I weighed ten of the largest and found that their aggregate weight was one ton and fifty odd pounds, the largest weighing 225 pounds. This squash was exhibited at the county fair, and received the first prize.
On the fifteenth of October, which was my boy's sixteenth birthday, I cut open one of the other squashes that weighed 210 pounds, and took out the seeds. My boy then got into it, and I put the piece in place, completely closing him in. I then persuaded my eighteen-year-old daughter to get into it, and I closed her in, in the same manner. My daughter's weight was IN) pounds.
I next put my two seven-year-old boys in at once. I then put my three little girls in at once; they were aged respectively six, four, and two years, their united weight being 116 pounds. I placed the largest child in the bottom and the little ones on top, and then put on the lid. The squash was three feet four inches in length." The seeds of all the melon tribe contain consider able nutritious substance, but we must go to a far country before we find them used as human food. The Chinese dote upon them, as we do upon pea nuts and salted almonds. In a Chinese theatre the stranger is soon conscious of a murmur made of little, crackling sounds. It is the snapping and crunching of dry melon seeds by the men and boys in the pit, whose pockets bulge with them. They would not enjoy the play without these seeds to nibble, as they watch events on the stage.