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Vermont Garden Journal: Pumpkins

Keith Srakocic
A tractor tows a trailer full of visitors past a pumpkin patch during a visit to a fall festival at an orchard.

I recently returned from leading VPR's Gardens and Food tour of Spain and France. While in Provence I was struck by the pumpkins, or should I say lack of them. The round, orange skinned orbs we love to decorate and paint for Halloween are non-existent. But instead are the red, flattened, cinderella pumpkins. In French, they're called 'Rouge Vif d'Etampes'. Our French cooking class chef said they're the best for flavor. It got me thinking and noticing many different squashes on farm stands and markets right here in Vermont.

When making pies and baking pumpkins for eating, forget about the Jack O Lanterns. 'Long Island Cheese' is known for its bright orange, smooth grained flesh, that's high in nutrients and makes excellent custard. 'Long Island Cheese' is an American heirloom and looks like a tan colored wheel of cheese and is similar in shape to the French pumpkins, I saw.

For a pumpkin of a real different shape, try 'Long Pie'. This heirloom squash features 3 to 5 pound fruits that look like an overgrown zucchini. Picked when the skin is still dark green they'll continue to ripen to orange indoors. Not only is the flavor great, it's a lot easier to scoop out the flesh of this elongated variety for cooking.

This year we're growing a variety of blue hubbard called 'Queensland Blue'. Hubbard squash are my favorite for baking. They have such rich, sweet flavor. Instead of growing the classic blue hubbard that gets monsterous, 'Queensland Blue' only grows 6 pounds in a buttercup-squash shape. All of these squash will last six months or more when stored indoors at around 50F.  So do a little hunting this fall when looking for squash and try some of these unusual ones for your fall cooking.

And now for this week's tip, when mowing the lawn a final time this season, mow a little lower than normal. This will remove more grass and prevent winter diseases such as snow mold on your lawn.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about fall garden cleanup varieties. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.

Broadcast on Friday, October 17, 2014 at 5:57 p.m. and Sunday, October 19, 2014 at 9:35 a.m.

The Vermont Garden Journal with Charlie Nardozzi is made possible by Gardener's Supply, offering environmental solutions for gardens and landscapes. In Burlington, Williston and Gardeners.com.

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Long Island Cheese Pumpkin

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