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Connecticut Garden Journal: Unusual Halloween Pumpkins

Oct 27, 2016

The big day is upon us. Halloween is here and one of the traditions is to carve a Jack O'Lantern. I like tradition, but if you're interested in something different this year in Jack O'Lanterns,  try decorating some other winter squashes, too. 

They may not be as easy to carve, but they sure can look spooky.

A few years ago, I was in France in the fall, and noticed instead of the large orange pumpkins we have, they are more likely to grow a red, flattened, Cinderella-like pumpkin called Rouge Vif d'Etampes.

Although this pumpkin has an unusual shape, I could still see carving some unique designs on the skin.

We have a similarly-shaped winter squash in our country, but it's tan colored and called Long Island Cheese. This is a tasty one to eat as well! 

If you're still liking the traditional orange Jack O'Lantern shape, try a white-skinned variety such as Casper. This is a good variety for young kids using markers instead of knives to decorate their pumpkin.

You can even grow blue skinned pumpkins that hale from down under. Queensland Blue is a type of Hubbard winter squash from Australia that has a warty, blue skin. Although not the traditional shape, it still can make one scary Jack O'Lantern. 

Four Queensland Blue pumpkins are the large ones on top. (The others are unknown volunteer pumpkins.)
Credit graibeard flickr.com/photos/graibeard / Creative Commons

This Jack O'Lantern clearly just had a successful visit to the dentist.
Credit Jeff Vier flickr.com/photos/boinger / Creative Commons

When carving any of these pumpkins and squash, it's best to soak the carved pumpkin in cold water overnight to hydrate the skin and make it last longer. Also, rub petroleum jelly on the cuts to preserve moisture and help the Jack O'Lantern keep its shape.

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about over-wintering geraniums. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.