Gourds, squash and pumpkins come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. The new varieties of warted gourds look like they’ve just come out of a science fiction movie.
Now-a-days you’ll see ceramic, plastic, or even paper pumpkins trying to mimic what you can easily grow in your garden. If you choose to grow the real thing you can not only decorate for fall, but you can use some of your winter squash or pumpkin in your favorite cooking recipes. In fact we have volunteers in the garden sprouting from last years fall displays. This year a volunteer speckled swan gourd sprouted next to our heat pump and covered the entire unit and screening hedge. The 20 pound swan shaped gourd rested right on top of the heat pump (which is probably why the unit just had to be replaced).
My favorite varieties to grow are as follows:
Gourds: Crown of Thorns, Penguin, Speckled Swan, Birdhouse, Caveman’s Club, and Big Apple.
Pumpkins: Howdens, Dill’s Atlantic Giant, and Racer.
Squash/Winter Squash: Sweet Dumpling, Buttercup, Waltham, Butternut, Acorn, Jarrahdale, Sunshine, Long Island Cheese, Turks Turban, Cinderella, Fairytale, and Blue Hubbard.
Gourds such as the Apple, Bottle or speckled swan should be harvested with 2-3 inch stems after the vines die back. They can then be hung to dry in a well ventilated place. Curing and drying should take place slowly and can take as long as 6 months to a full year at 50 – 60 degree temperatures. Temperatures above 60 degrees may cause too much mold to grow.
Pumpkins are best stored in a warm dry area at a temperature of 50-60 degrees. These will keep for two to three months. This should be done after they have been cured (stored in a warm dry location at 70 - 80 degrees for one to two weeks).Fall and Winter Squash are best stored at 50 – 60 degree temperatures. Be sure to handle them carefully to avoid bruising and be sure that they get plenty of air circulation.
Many of the squash and pumpkins can be used for cooking purposes.
One of my favorite recipes for acorn squash, Butternut, or Buttercup squash is as follows: