Finding a storage squash that will produce in our little corner of Alaska, in the hills above Anchorage (830 ft.), has involved years of mostly failed trials of the hardiest and shortest season storage squash. The time required for significant spring warming of even raised beds can slow the start of growth and even protection with row cover and starting indoors is not enough to allow ripe fruit production. With the changing climate, there is more heat and drought in the summer but volatility seems greater with high chance of early frost. Short season storage squash can be grown in some of the optimal microclimates in our fair state, but that would not include our garden.
After years of block-headed failure, we tried Nantucket long pie pumpkin (C. pepo). This is an old variety that was reported as far back as 1832 that is very poorly suited to commercial cultivation for the same reason it is outstanding for the home gardener growing “on the edge”. Long pie is very aggressive, even in cool soil. It produces secondary roots, and the vines push aside anything that grows in its way such as the weeds I forget to pull.
The reason we tried long pie is that it is harvested green with only a small patch of orange and slowly ripens over many months in the house during winter. Usually, this ripening varies from fruit to fruit and spreads out the “harvest” often till March. This would be the bane of the commercial grower but is perfect for how we eat and greatly extends the harvest. It has outstanding taste and texture that is the equal of many winter squash. The fruit range from 5-10 lbs, making them a convenient size for use. We are still working on cultivation practices that optimize production but it looks like we can obtain a yield of 1.5-2 pounds of pumpkin/square foot. Early pollination failure probably is most limiting of yield at present.
The fixation error of focusing on a short season variety provided another humbling lesson. When what we needed was a plant that grows and is used in a different manner. This is relevant to only a small segment of the permie community, but for some other folks gardening at the edge this could be a useful variety.
Flavor can be subjective and so dependent on growth conditions. The Longpie pumpkin flavor is as good or better than the various pie pumpkins that I have grown even in favorable hot climates like Colorado. The texture in much better than any of these pupkins. The Lonpie seems to have less sugar than many winter squash but the same nice nutty complex flavors. Even for the longpie, the larger and more mature fruits always have much better flavor and sweetness than the smaller ones, but this is typical of many squashes. Longpie is a clearly superior performer in my climate, but I am very interested in how it compares in warmer locations when directly comparison to winter squash.
I think I will try it I planted an Italian squash last year Lunga De napoli ( and was very disappointed in the flavor , I like pumpkin soup and the squash was very mild so it did not give much flavor ,soup ended up being an orange color and nice texture but tasted like the chicken broth , no squash or pumpkin flavor just 33 lbs of very watery pulp I gave one away and have one left to cook
I will try this . we have deer that like to eat the pumpkins as they ripen so a pumpkin I can take in early would be good . last year caught the buck chowing in my garden and no un damaged pumpkins to store
Luckily we had planted lots of butternut
I was reading that small, immature Nantucket Long Pie pumpkins could be picked and eaten as a summer squash. Did you try this, and if so did you think it was any good?
My brother got a variety of pie pumpkin to ripen last year. I can't remember the name, but it looked like a regular pumpkin, just small. Last year was an unusually good growing season and most of our stuff did well, so I don't know if his success will be repeatable.
Whew! So glad I saw this post. Thanks for the info that they ripen after being picked. It's October in Washington and I was looking at my huge long pie pumpkins (first year growing) and wondering why they are still green! Now I know I can pick them before the frost that might be coming next week or so.
Very interesting option. I am not as season-bound, but it still seems worth trying.
Has anyone come across other cultivars with this ripening tendency?
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What is that? Is that a mongol horde? Can we fend them off with this tiny ad?