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Pumpkins, gourds are festive decorations
The changing season and cooler temperatures make now the perfect time to decorate the front porch with a fall harvest display. These displays are ideal for Halloween and add charm through the season.
Remember to use more than just pumpkins in your display. Pumpkins are a member of the cucurbit family, which also includes squashes and gourds. Pumpkins can be orange, red, yellow, white, blue, or striped. They can be miniature, flattened, necked, smooth, winged or warty.
There are literally hundreds of different varieties of pumpkin, squash and gourds available. And there are many pumpkin patches springing up across Mississippi.
Let’s take a look at a few of my fall favorites.
The Cinderella pumpkin is an heirloom variety called Rouge Vif d’Etampes in its native France. This pumpkin has been a fall favorite since the late 1880s. It’s rumored to have been the model for Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage in the animated film. The flattened shape makes this a good stacking pumpkin.
One of the more interesting pumpkins is the peanut pumpkin, a cross between an unknown pumpkin variety and a Hubbard squash. This pumpkin has a warty surface that resembles peanuts. It is a great choice for adding coarse texture to any display.
While the large pumpkins get the most attention, mini pumpkins are quite versatile. The Pump Ke Mon variety has white skin with vertical, orange stripes. Baby Boo is a snow white miniature, and Mini Jack is bright orange. Try displaying minis in big flowers pots or bowls. Mini pumpkins will keep well all through the season.
But there is no reason for you to limit yourself to the traditional jack-o-lantern shapes.
Turban squash are a popular hat-shaped variety that Native Americans grew. They have bulb-like tops and make good fall decorations, with their bizarre shape and multi-colored stripes. A turban squash would make a fantastic centerpiece for any gathering. Other good squash for decorations include Hubbard and any of the winter squash.
Gourds come in amazing varieties. Some of the more interesting gourds are the Autumn Wings. With wings and warts, these swan-shaped gourds are colorful and spectacular. And believe it or not, most are delicious when baked or made into a pie.
Be sure to inspect your pumpkin, squash or gourd; they will last longer if they have no surface damage. And that includes carving one for Halloween. Try painting the face onto your jack-o-lantern this year; it will help the pumpkin to last the entire season.
If you just have to carve a pumpkin, coat the cut surfaces and the inside with petroleum jelly. This will help to seal the cuts and keep the flesh firm.
So go shopping for some unique pumpkins, squash and gourds. They will add interest and beauty to any fall display.