Paul James takes a look at the diversity in the world of pumpkin and squashes.
There's some amazing genetic diversity within the world of squashes (and pumpkins, which botanically speaking, are also squashes.)
"Just look at the dazzlingly different shapes, colors, textures and sizes of these fruits," says master gardener Paul James. "Some of them are truly beautiful, some are definitely unusual and some of them only a mother could love."
Like this peanut pumpkin, for example. The salmon-colored rind is covered with peanut-like warts; some pumpkins in this group (Cucurbita maxima 'Galeux d'Eysines') are completely covered iwth the "peanuts," others just a few. The deep orange inner flesh is said to be delicious.
"This is at once the most unusual and most appropriately named squash I've ever seen," he says.
And for what it's worth, you can grow any or all of these squash in the home garden. Just give them rich, manure-amended soil, plenty of room to grow, a steady supply of water and a long growing season.
"To be honest, I didn't grow any of these squash. I bought them at a nursery, " Paul says. "And while they'll be put to good use in my holiday displays, within a few weeks they'll also start to rot."
That's inevitable. But you can stall the process somewhat by not placing the squash on moist ground or in an area where they might get soaked by rains.
"Oh, and one more thing," says Paul. "All of these squash are edible, but not all of them taste that great."