So today we went (a bit late) to the local pumpkin patch to get pumpkins for the kids. We had expected to go to the stereotypical pumpkin patch with nice round uniform orange pumpkins, just like you’d get from the store.
Nope. And it was great! They had all sorts of different varieties to choose from. Now we are a bit late in the year for pumpkins so he didn’t have all that many left. But we quickly found some that worked for us.
While we were getting ready to leave, I talked to the farmer a bit and found out that he grows fifteen different varieties of pumpkins. Most of them are standby popular favorites, but he experiments with a couple new varieties each year to see if he finds some that folks like better.
Lots of heirloom varieties, and some really unique looking pumpkins that I’ve never seen before.
And then there’s the squash. Oh my, did he have squash. Aside from the pumpkins, he was selling ten or twelve different varieties of winter squash. And only a couple of them were the common varieties like acorn or butternut.
We ended up picking up a couple different varieties that we’d never heard of to try this week. Some of these heirloom varieties are from the region here, so they should be well suited to storage.
And the prices couldn’t be beat. For example, we got a 16 lb banana squash for $4. And a 25 lb hubbard squash for $5. Try getting those prices at the store.
And there is the inspiration for the title of this article … if we just focused on buying from the produce department at the local supermarket, we would never have been exposed to these.
As great as the farmers market is, I haven’t seen any of the more esoteric varieties available there. Pretty much your standard fare.
So get out there and talk to people. Talk to the farmers around, even the ones that aren’t at the farmers market. Find out what varieties are available that are specialized to your area, and grow them yourself if you’re so inclined. But don’t forget to support your local farmer!
You can bet that I’ll be going back and talking to the farmer about his crops and finding out where he’s getting some of these local heirloom strains.
By the way … the squash in the picture? Pretty much a dead ringer for the hubbard we picked up. Not bad for $5. If you’re so inclined, I know that you can get a good varient over at Territorial Seed Company.
In closing … a question for you! What’s your favorite winter squash, and how do you prepare it?