Trying to pick a pumpkin for 2014? Consider these recommendations from Gwenael Engelskirchen, who tests new varieties for High Mowing Organic Seeds.
I’m seeing a lot more interest in the unusual varieties, such as the ones with seeds that don’t have thick hulls. Here are some of my favorites:
Kakai (100 days): This variety has hulless seeds that are delicious when toasted. The 5- to 8-pound fruits are orange with green striping. Good for compact gardens because it’s a semi-bush type, which means vines grow less than 10 feet. You can expect two to three pumpkins per plant.
Black Futzu (105 days): A rare Japanese specialty squash, this warty one is decorative and delicious. When roasted, the 3- to 5-pound fruits have bright-orange flesh that’s nutty and fresh. You can even grow this in a large container, such as the Jumbo Potato Grow Bag or a whiskey barrel. Harvest should be three to five pumpkins per plant on relatively short vines, about 6 to 10 feet.
Winter Luxury (105 days): Among the sweetest of pie pumpkins, this variety averages 6 pounds. The deep-orange skin is covered in silver netting, giving the pumpkin a magical appearance. Winter Luxury is a vining type, so plant it where it has room to sprawl. The flesh is delicious for pie and soup, but enjoy shortly after harvest. This beauty is not a good keeper.
Owl’s Eye (110 days): Makes a gorgeous Jack-o-Lantern. It starts as a buttery color that brightens to yellow in time. It’s a semi-bush type, making it a good choice for smaller gardens. Fruit ranges from 10″ to 16″ in diameter (10 to 15 pounds). Flat-bottomed, so it makes a nice display. Sturdy “handles,” too. Owl’s Eye is an original release from High Mowing’s breeding program, in collaboration with the University of New Hampshire.