by Roseanne Edwards
Halloween may not be as bright this year because of a shortage of large pumpkins.
The dearth of decent-sized traditional varieties is due to this year’s drought, according to farmer Nigel Morris of the Bodicote Farm Shop in Oxfordshire.
“Our display isn’t half as big as normal because the pumpkins just haven’t grown as big as usual,” he said.
“It’s not so bad for the big farmers in places like East Anglia as they are geared up to it with irrigation systems so they are still able to supply some reasonably sized pumpkins.”
A short supply of water
Even in the supermarkets the selection of Halloween fruits – a member of the squash family – is smaller than usual.
Pumpkins are a field crop and grow in fleshy, spikey vines. One large pumpkin plant can cover several hundred square feet of space by the end of the growing season – and they drink a lot of water, which was in short supply this summer.
Why do we carve pumpkins?
The custom of making pumpkin lanterns at Halloween was originally more popular in North America, but has since become common in the UK. In 19th century Britain and Ireland, turnips or mangel wurzels, hollowed out to act as lanterns and often carved with grotesque faces, were used at Halloween.
The lanterns were said to represent the spirits or supernatural beings or used to ward off evil spirits. Sometimes they were used at Halloween to set on windowsills to keep harmful spirits away.
A version of this article originally appeared on our sister site, Banbury Guardian