Garden News Blog

Great Pumpkin: Look What’s in the Herb Garden

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.

Caleb Leech was curator of BBG's Herb Garden.

Image, top:
Cucurbita moschata 'Rumbo' has flesh that is similar to acorn squash, but it's less stringy and tastes even sweeter. 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 'Bliss' is often used in savory dishes like curries because its flesh is not sweet. Photo by Blanca Begert.