Kakai pumpkin

Kakai pumpkin. Photos: High Mowing Organic Seeds

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:

Guest Post

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 pumpkin

Black Futzu

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 pumpkin

Winter Luxury

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 pumpkin

Owl’s Eye

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.

Gwenael Engelskirchen

Gwenael is trials manager at High Mowing Organic Seeds in Wolcott, VT.