My, how pumpkins have changed over the past few years!
They still play a big role as Jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween, but their emphasis has shifted to much more sophisticated fall décor.
Designer pumpkins are now all the rage, as are so many heritage squash.
Orange has all but faded to the background as the new colours of white, grey, tan, soft pink, soft blue and mellow yellows are stealing the show.
The beauty of these new pumpkins is not only their natural beauty, but their ability to last for weeks as décor, and then be used in many recipes.
White is the most popular designer colour today and they come in all sizes, from the tiny Baby Boo to slightly larger Snowball, up to Crystal Star which matures to about 30 pounds.
I love the Doll series for a truly unique look: Porcelain Doll is a dainty pink, Blue Doll is a cool grey blue and Indian Doll is a soft salmon colour. They all average in the 12- to 15-pound size range and have become a front porch fall staple.
Blue-skinned Jarrahdale has an almost antique look, as do the grey-orange Autumn Frost and Fairytale.
Warted pumpkins are now making a statement and Goosebumps, as well as Super Freak, are truly unique and fun.
Yellows are surprisingly popular and Sunlight is a bright yellow. Mellow Yellow, as its name implies, is a much softer yellow.
Many winter squash have also become very much a part of our seasonal décor with their designer shapes and colours.
Grey Ghost and Autumn Frost are not only beautiful but incredibly tasty as well. The French heritage warted Galeux d’eysines is a soft tan colour and Pack Banana is a pretty orange elongated, cylindrical squash.
I mention these now because it’s the perfect time to plant them. Most of these varieties, as well as the mainstream varieties, take about one hundred days to mature.
They need to be planted in good soil that has been enhanced with compost and rotted manures. Keep the plants evenly moist as they begin to grow and avoid watering overhead to prevent mildew.
At least twice during the growing season feed generously with a fertilizer like Flower & Vegetable 10-15-19 with micronutrients. Like tomatoes, pumpkins and squash need a bit of lime to provide much needed calcium to prevent blossom end rot and crop loss.
Pumpkins and squash are fun to grow and it’s nice to get the kids involved too because they will have a strong connection to the plants.
There is still time to start them from seed but using transplants at this time of the season will ensure great results by fall.