The 2018 Pumpkins

No fall garden journal of mine would be complete without a discussion of the pumpkins.  Not just any pumpkins, but those especially beautiful and select fall fruits that Rob cuts and brings to the shop for sale in October. He is most assuredly an aficionado of this iconic sculpture of the fall season. Were you to engage him on the topic, you might be witness to a passionate discussion of shape, color, stem size and surface. And standability. He favors pumpkins that stand on their own, over the leaners. But for those pumpkin fans that admire a pumpkin on its side, he will have those too. He can converse at length on the history and characteristics of varieties generally available in our area. And their variants. You will run out of patience for the pumpkin discussion long before he runs out of things to say. Normally he is quite taciturn, but he is an unabashed fan of pumpkins. Just ask him.
One year his yearly buying trip to Europe ran long. He came home at the end of September to find not a single pumpkin at the shop. Driving for hours to the grower and field of his choice, cutting the fruits free from the vines, and carrying them to the edge of the field so they can be loaded on to the grower’s tractor and trailer would not be my choice of a day’s work. I made it clear that if he wanted pumpkins, he would need to be available to make that happen. He now plans his European buying trip so he is home for the pumpkin season. It is a good bit of travel, and a lot of work to put a collection together.  This year, he, David and Marzela made the trip in 3 separate trucks to pick pumpkins. The field was muddy, but navigable.
His relationship with the breeder and grower spans a few years now.  I suspect they enjoy each other’s company. Once he realized that Rob likes to look at pumpkins as much as he likes to grow them, he spent a lot of time talking to Rob about his breeding program, and his growing protocol. I think Rob has a fairly good understanding of what characteristics are of interest to him. A testament to his breeding skill  that spans many decades is the fact that seed companies send representatives every year to look over his crop, and buy seed.  They get first pick.  But once the round of seed buyers have made their evaluation and purchases, the coast is clear for Rob to shop.

He did this year’s shopping in two trips.  One by himself, to see what was out there. It was a tough year for growing pumpkins.  The heat was relentless, and the rain scant. I can understand that if pumpkins start to mature in late summer, they will be ready for market too early. We wait until the beginning of October to buy. Pumpkins that ripen as the temperatures are beginning to moderate will have a better chance of lasting intact a long time. As we rarely have a really hard frost before the end of October, the pumpkin season can be enjoyed a month or better.  In a mild fall, I have seen them survive with no soft or rotten spots until after well after Thanksgiving.

Though the picking is organized, it is still hard work. Rob picks what he wants, and sets them next to the road running through the field. The pumpkins are then loaded on a flat bed pulled by a tractor.

Two trailer loads amounted to about 500 pumpkins. Give or take, about 10,000 pounds worth of pumpkins. The shapes, colors, sizes, surfaces and density look great to the last. What to do with one of these pumpkins? Set in on your porch, and celebrate the fall.

All of these tall oblong and round orange pumpkins with expressive stalks look good to me.

Orange is not the only color sported by pumpkins. Orange, black, bicolor orange and green, cream, white, peach, yellow, caramel colored-take your pick.

The shop is awash in beautiful pumpkins right now; you’ll see.

Rob’s pumpkin collection

white and cream pumpkins

big and small orange pumpkins

a color palette

This is my favorite pumpkin of all of Rob’s 500 choices. It is a subtle choice. I love the creamy gold skin. The oblong shape. The thick stem whose thin green anchors grip the top of the fruit. In my opinion, this is a perfect pumpkin. Should you be of a mind to represent the fall with the pumpkin of your choice, we have lot to choose from. As for the idea of dressing a porch or a terrace in Pumpkins – why not? Beautifully grown pumpkins speak loud and clear to that moment gardeners call the fall season. Once October comes, I load up on the pumpkins.


  1. In my little urban vegetable patch this year I have one pumpkin vine (a Jaradale?) and it lit out for the territories in July; the vine now goes up a small tree about 20 feet, over the fence to the roof of the neighbor’s shed, down the other side and across a hedge to the next neighbor. There are only a couple of pumpkins visible at this point; I made bamboo supports for the earliest ones but something gnawed on them. One of the current fruits is about the size of my head and hanging from the vine maybe 15 feet up; the other is on the roof of the neighbor’s shed and is much smaller. Should be interesting to see what happens next……


  2. Annette Eberhardt says

    Yay! I love your pumpkin post! Always the coolest gourds in town! Great photos! Happy fall Deborah! l

  3. Susan Rubinsky says

    Love it! I am a pumpkin nerd too. I used to drive my ex-husband crazy, insisting on going to a specific farm that had what I considered the best pumpkins around. I would spend half the day searching for what I considered the best pumpkins. I’m with Rob about self-standing ones. I also am a sucker for long twisty stems. Love all of Rob’s picks! They are wonderful!

  4. Your pumpkin selection is outstanding. Pumpkin personality plus! So many shapes and colors with the especially nice longer stems. Nobody in my area offers this great selection. Also, everyone here sells short stubby stems. Your pumpkin displays are spectacular.

  5. Michaele Anderson says

    This post makes me realize that I have never fully appreciated how much personality and character the stem adds to the whole look of the pumpkin. That is an impressive physical effort that Rob puts in to make all these beauties available to the business and clients.

  6. Rosanne Murphy Cotant says

    I really enjoyed reading this! Rob is wonderful and I love his enthusiasm for pumpkins! My concern here in Birmingham MI are the squirrels!! They eat everything! I have decorated my home with various pumpkins for many years (24 to be exact) and they always eat my pumpkins!! Without fail! I have also tried many tactics to stop this and nothing has worked! Tell me what to do!!!

  7. Deborah, I was delighted to see this years collection on Sunday, some of those color combinations are deliciously beautiful. So glad a few found their way home with me!
    Best, Dan

  8. I love pumpkins with stems too, so many fun shapes…

  9. I love the beautiful stems! They add so much!

  10. Silvia Weber says

    What’s not to like? Love them all!

  11. My favourite posts Deborah! Your pumpkin posts…one of these days I will make it to your shop and garden tour…God willing! Happy fall!

  12. What an interesting post. Pumpkins are the only vegetable that make me smile when I see them. Love ceci’s comment about her pumpkins running amok, too.

  13. Thank goodness for Rob’s pumpkin passion! Pumpkins are such cool and useful objects & I love them. So wish I lived closer to your shop as it always looks marvelous!

  14. What a fabulous post.
    Seeing all these amazing pumpkins conjures wonderful memories of the early autumns of my youth.
    Pumpkins meant Halloween. It was the only time of the year my mother made pumpkin pies (from real pumpkins). I don’t recall a single can of pumpkin pie mix before I was out in the world in my own kitchen. It was also the only time she would allow us kids to make our favorite treat for Halloween — popcorn balls drenched in hot candied syrup — which we were only allowed to touch after our little hands and arms were slathered up to the elbows with butter.
    Pumpkins bring lots of warm memories. Thanks for the post.

  15. Sandy Boylston says

    When I lived in Minnesota I would buy a few extra pumpkins just for the squirrels. I placed those in the back yard and the squirrels just ate the ones I had selected for them. The little critters were so cute. Sometimes they would eat a hole thru the flesh and hop inside to enjoy the seeds.

    I tried this same approach with North Carolina squirrels. For some reason they have no interest in pumpkins at all.

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