ISSUE 94  |  October Moon

10 Easy Pieces: Best Pumpkins

October 15, 2013 5:00 PM

BY Janet Hall

Perusing the pumpkin selections this fall is a perfect time to gather ideas and seeds (if, that is, you can resist roasting and eating them) to plant in your own pumpkin patch next year. Purchase your favorite pumpkins and harvest the seeds for spring planting. Or, for varieties you can’t find close to home, consider sourcing seeds online (we’ve shared sources here). Here are ten of our favorites pumpkin picks; some shine as carvers, some as bakers, but they are all fall decorating keepers.

Have a favorite pumpkin variety to carve, display, or bake? Tell us about it in the comments section.

Photographs by Janet Hall except where noted.

Above: Ghostly white Lumina Pumpkins are great for carving, painting (they have very smooth skin), and baking. The easy-to-grow Pumpkins average from 8 to 10 inches in diameter and weigh from 10 to 12 pounds. Lumina White Pumpkin Seeds are $3.49 for a 3 gram packet from Botanical Interests. Photograph via Making Lemonade.

Above: The unusually striking Blue Jarrahdale Pumpkin has a flat, ribbed shape and a slate blue-grey color. Not the sweetest tasting squash, it is long lasting as a keeper. They average 6 to 10 pounds. A packet of 16 Organic Jarrahdale Pumpkin Seeds is $2.49 through Sustainable Seeds.

Above: For a classic Jack-o-lantern shape great for carving, there are several varieties to consider including Connecticut Field Pumpkins, an heirloom variety that reaches weights of from 15 to 20 pounds. Considered to be one of the oldest field pumpkins in existence in North America, Connecticut Field Pumpkin Seeds are $1.99 for a packet of 22 from Sustainable Seed Company.

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Above: A newer variety, Charisma Pumpkins are a moderate sized (from 14 to 18 pounds), mildew resistant Jack-o-lantern with a classic round shape great for carving. A packet of 30 Charisma Pumpkin Seeds is $3.45 at Johnny’s Seeds.

Above: I love the unusual and exotic shapes of the Turks Turban squash. While they vary in coloring, shape and size, Turban squash weigh on average 5 pounds and measure about 10 inches in diameter; $1.55 for a pack of 12 Turks Turban Squash Seeds at Victory Seeds.

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above: Ornamental mini pumpkins are great for fall decor. Burpee offers a Mini Harvest Blend Pumpkin Seed Collection that includes three varieties of mini pumpkins: orange, white, and mottled green; orange, and white; $3.95 for a packet of ten seeds.

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Above: A French heirloom pumpkin, the Rouge vif d’Etampes is also called the Cinderella pumpkin because of its whimsical flat, wide shape and deep red-orange hue. In autumnal displays, it makes a great base for a stack or works well as a stand-alone centerpiece. Rouge Vif d’Etampes Heirloom Pumpkin Seeds from Homestead Seeds are packaged in bottles with cork lids. Each bottle is $5 and contains a minimum of 15 seeds. Photo via Choit’s Run.

Above: I have to confess that the Fairy Tale Pumpkin is a favorite, conjuring up images of mice and glass slippers. A large variety that averages from 12 to 18 inches wide, the Fairy Tale Pumpkin is great for decor and baking. A 3-gram packet of Fairy Tale Pumpkins Seeds is $3.05 at the Territorial Seed Company.

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Above: Sweet, small, and perfectly shaped, Sugar or Pie Pumpkin is not for carving, but is favored for cooking (the best for pies), and is a favorite for tabletop pumpkin decor. The prolific pumpkins average approximately 5 pounds; $1.99 for a packet of 40 Sugar Pie Pumpkin Seeds at the Millington Seed Company.

Above: The unusual shapes and colors of Autumn Wing Gourds add a ghoulish note. A jar of 15 Autumn Wing Gourd Seeds is $5 at Homestead Seeds.


Above: Harvesting pumpkin seeds is easy. After scooping the seeds from the innards, rinse and lay out to dry for 24 hours. Store the seeds in envelopes (see our favorite Seed Storage Envelopes) and save until planting time. The Old Farmer’s Almanac offers useful Pumpkin Planting and Growing Tips. Short on space? Plant pumpkins along the edge of a garden and direct vine growth across the lawn or patio. Or, plant miniature varieties in large containers or window boxes. Photograph via Flickr.

N.B. This is an update of a post that originally published on October 31, 2012.

See our earlier post Halloween Decor, The Evolution for more ideas.