MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Fall is in full force and Halloween is just around the corner.
But before you head out to find the classic orange pumpkin, you may want to check out the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. They currently have hundreds of different varieties of pumpkins on display, many of which are for sale.
“It’s just amazing that in one season — from basically the beginning of May or June — you can produce such a huge fruit in three or four months,” University of Minnesota horticulture researcher John Thull said.
Over 250 different varieties — with a resulting yield of 10 tons of pumpkins — are center stage at the Arboretum. Thull started planting in June. He says their bounty would have been bigger if it weren’t for the wet weather.
“When they were setting fruit in August and we had those heavy rains come through, we had a lot of blossom rot, and a lot of these pumpkins didn’t quite make it,” he said.
Thull says although they could’ve had more, 10 tons of pumpkins is plenty. Many of them are actually squash, which are in the same family as pumpkins.
“Like this Cinderella Pumpkin for example,” Thull said, holding up the gourd. “It truly is a squash, but I think people use it more for decorating than for eating, so the line between a pumpkin and a squash is totally blurred.”
Whether it’s decorating, carving, eating or smashing, there’s just as many ways to use a pumpkin as there are species.
“The seeds are very green and very nice and soft and immediately ready for eating,” Thull said. “I mean, you can put them in the oven and roast them and put your salt and stuff on, but the beautiful green seeds in here are super healthy for you,” Thull said. “It’s got all the antioxidents going on.”
With all the different species comes a long list of creative names.
“The big white one here is called Polar Bear, so it’s one of the biggest, white-sized pumpkins that you can grow,” Thull said.
Pumpkins and squash are for sale at the Apple House just down the road from the Arboretum. You can learn more at wcco.com/links.