• A Pumpkin Primer

    October 20, 2014

    , Our Gardens

    With Halloween just around the corner, we're making our final picks for the perfect Jack o' Lantern. Every fall, our plant experts head to auctions across the Pennsylvania countryside in search of the year's very best pumpkins. Our stores are now fully stocked with their picks of the patch, from the prettiest pumpkins to the spookiest squash. Read on to learn about some of our favorite varieties for fall decorating, baking, and carving.

    1. American Tondo: An old Italian variety, this striped beauty is a relatively new face in the United States. Thick ribs and deep green bands against an orange background make the perfect pair of color and texture for fall decorating. This variety can reach up to 15 pounds, but is best for eating when harvested young. 

    2. Cinderella: A unique French heirloom properly known as Rouge vif d’Etampes, this decorator's favorite gets its nickname from the famous fairytale. Historical record suggests that this variety was cultivated by early American settlers and eaten at the second Thanksgiving dinner. Today, it remains a good choice for any pie or winter squash recipe. 

    3a. Blue Hubbard: Introduced by New England seed trader and squash expert James J.H. Gregory, this popular squash gets its name from Elizabeth Hubbard, the woman who gave Gregory her heirloom squash seeds. Noteworthy thanks to its blue-gray hue, this winter squash is a long-lasting variety with firm, bright-orange flesh inside. 

    3b. Pink Rascal: We love this squat, deeply-furrowed pumpkin for its unique, pale pink hue and tasty, fine-grained flesh. Bred specifically to raise funds for cancer research, a portion of the seed sales from this new variety are donated each year.

    4. Warty Gourd: Splashed with shades of deep green and bright orange, we love this bumpy member of the Cucurbita family for fall decorating. There's a sweet story behind the lumpy texture of the skin-- the high sugar content of these varieties cracks or erupts the skin, causing "warts."