Great Pumpkin: Look What’s in the Herb Garden

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    • Herb Garden curator Caleb Leech and volunteer Cheryl John survey the collection of lovely Cucurbita specimens. Photo by Blanca Begert.Herb Garden curator Caleb Leech and volunteer Cheryl John survey the collection of lovely Cucurbita specimens. Photo by Blanca Begert.
    • Cucurbita moschata 'Musque de Provence' is in an heirloom pumpkin from the south of France, where it is sold in wedges at farmers' markets. Its flesh is deep orange and moderately sweet. Photo by Blanca BegertCucurbita moschata 'Musque de Provence' is in an heirloom pumpkin from the south of France, where it is sold in wedges at farmers' markets. Its flesh is deep orange and moderately sweet. Photo by Blanca Begert
    • Cucurbita moschata 'Bliss'  is often used in savory dishes like curries because its flesh is not sweet. Photo by Blanca Begert.Cucurbita moschata 'Bliss' is often used in savory dishes like curries because its flesh is not sweet. Photo by Blanca Begert.
    • Though it looks like an overgrown zucchini, Cucurbita moschata 'Naples Long' is actually a very old heirloom variety of pumpkin from Italy. Photo by Blanca Begert.Though it looks like an overgrown zucchini, Cucurbita moschata 'Naples Long' is actually a very old heirloom variety of pumpkin from Italy. Photo by Blanca Begert.
    • Cucurbita moschata 'Black Futsu' is an unusual Japanese cultivar. Its dark green, almost black skin turns chestnut-colored when it's stored. Its flesh is golden and tastes like hazelnuts. Photo by Blanca Begert.Cucurbita moschata 'Black Futsu' is an unusual Japanese cultivar. Its dark green, almost black skin turns chestnut-colored when it's stored. Its flesh is golden and tastes like hazelnuts. Photo by Blanca Begert.
    • Cucurbita moschata 'Rumbo' has flesh that is similar to acorn squash, but it's less stringy and tastes even sweeter. Photo by Blanca Begert.Cucurbita moschata 'Rumbo' has flesh that is similar to acorn squash, but it's less stringy and tastes even sweeter. Photo by Blanca Begert.
    • Curcurbita maxima 'Marina de Chioggia'  is a gorgeous, bumpy-skinned heirloom variety from Italy that is prized for its flavorful orange flesh. Photo by Blanca Begert.Curcurbita maxima 'Marina de Chioggia' is a gorgeous, bumpy-skinned heirloom variety from Italy that is prized for its flavorful orange flesh. Photo by Blanca Begert.
    • Cucurbita pepo 'Kakai' is an Austrian cultivar with green, hull-less seeds that are perfect for roasting. Photo by Blanca Begert.Cucurbita pepo 'Kakai' is an Austrian cultivar with green, hull-less seeds that are perfect for roasting. Photo by Blanca Begert.
    • A collection of Cucurbita (pumpkins and winter squashes) from the Herb Garden. Photo by Blanca Begert. A collection of Cucurbita (pumpkins and winter squashes) from the Herb Garden. Photo by Blanca Begert.

    Cucurbits are an unfussy and rewarding crop if you have the space to grow them. The genus Cucurbita includes pumpkins and winter squashes (these common names are used synonymously), and every year at BBG, we grow a wide range of cultivars. Visitors might remember some of the unusual varieties that grew in the Herb Garden last year, such as the long, curled trombone squash. This year, we focused on different varieties of C. moschata.

    This species is most commonly seen in the U.S. as the butternut or crookneck squash, but it has a great range of forms. Distinct regional cultivars have been developed all over the world. C. moschata is particularly pest resistant because it has a solid stem, unlike most other cucurbit species. This enables it to withstand the squash vine borer, a regular visitor to the Garden and difficult to control organically.

    The great thing about all winter squashes is that if they are harvested while immature, they can be prepared in the same way as zucchini or other summer squashes. They’re delish when finely cut with a mandoline slicer and quickly grilled or eaten raw with lime and salt. Allowed to mature, winter squashes can keep for an extremely long time. Store them in a cool dry place and enjoy them throughout the winter baked, in stir-fries, and in soup.


    Comments

    October 22, 2013
    Marchele' Lalena Davis-Mabry

    My children grew up in the Garden and participated in the programs and workshops all year-round. Some are still gardeners, truly bitten by the green bug. Planting, pruning, composting are part of everyday life, as it should be.



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