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FRESH In: Great Pumpkins (and Gourds)

The long, hot, dry summer has played havoc with the harvest of many traditional summer and fall fruits and vegetables, including that fall favorite, the pumpkin.

But don’t be fearful – we have colorful, beautiful pumpkins, squash and gourds for your Halloween decorations and autumn centerpieces, and more coming in all the time.

The prolonged drought suffered by many farmers meant that for many pumpkin and squash varieties, the crop either came to market late, produced fewer pumpkins than usual, or both. Pumpkins will be just a little scarcer this year, and if you wait too long to buy them, you may find fewer available than in years past.

So, this year, you might also think about changing up your seasonal display with some of the more unique, unusual pumpkins, squash and decorative gourds we’ve brought in. Our display in our patio pumpkin patch will change as the harvest continues, but here are some of the more unique ones that you may find:

Turban squash: These look like a small pumpkin wearing a little hat (thus, the “turban” name), but they’re squash. Most people use them as decorations, but inside that hard shell there’s edible flesh, good roasted or pureed into soup.

Sweet dumpling squash: These look like small pumpkins with a green-and-pale yellow mottled skin, but they’re squash, too. You can roast them, skin and all, and eat like a sweet potato; they are very sweet .

Cinderella pumpkins: Bright orange and slightly squashed, these pumpkins look like they came out of a fairytale, like Cinderella’s magical coach. They can be eaten, too; the flesh is sweet and can even be made into pie.

Carnival squash: Somewhat similar to a sweet dumpling squash in appearance, these look like a small pumpkin or an acorn squash, except they are yellow with orange and/or green stripes or markings.  They’re hard-skinned but easy to bake; you may think they taste like butternut squash.

Blue pumpkins: These smaller pumpkins have skin that runs from blue-gray to greenish, and while they’re edible, they’re more often used as decoration because of their striking appearance.

Swan gourds: One of many types of small decorative gourds, this one really can look like a sitting swan, with its long, crooked neck. Decorative gourds aren’t edible, but a collection of them will last a long time as a decorative element in a bowl or tray, maybe paired with some colorful decorative corn or mini-pumpkins.