Pumpkin/Squash variety question for the northwest

planetes(7b (Cascadia - PNW))August 25, 2011

I'm looking at growing some new (to me) varieties next year and I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with them.

Specifically, I'm north of Seattle and I'm looking at experimenting with Butternut Squash and Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck (Neck Pumpkins). Just curious if our climate will work well for them.

I'm trying to find good pie/baking varieties of winter squash. I'm growing Sugar Pie pumpkins this year.


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I have not tried those, but this year am growing Pink Banana squash which is a very large squash that is supposed to be very sweet and good for pies. I cannot imagine butternut would not make a good pie. I am in zone 3, pretty short growing season and people grow those here all the time. Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 1:08PM
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Butternut will probably work for you. My son lives in Bothell, and he tells me of this wonderful "banana belt" North of there. He's met someone who grows Butternut. So, I'm pretty sure they would grow for you. However, you're in a prime location to grow a c. maxima. You don't have borers, which are the bane of this family of squash. Some c. maximas are absolutely amazing. Both Baker Creek Heirlooms and Sandhill Preservation Center list the scientific family with their varieties. So you could browse through their listings and chose a variety from the c. maxima family, if you so desired.

Here in Oklahoma we have borers, big time. I pretty much stick with c. moschata varieties, of which the butternut is part of that family. They are very good. But, as a rule they take a bit longer to mature and require more heat.

Tahlequah, Oklahoma

Here is a link that might be useful: Sandhill Preservation Center Squash

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 7:07AM
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planetes(7b (Cascadia - PNW))

Interesting.. how are the flavors of the Maxima varieties comparatively? I've always read that they don't tend to make good pie pumpkins/squashes.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 7:02PM
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C. maximas have a very wide range in flavor. Buttercup types ( which include the kabochas are highly favored by some folks, Hubbards are considered the standards by others. The banana types are pretty good eating. The pumpkin types are better ornamentals than table stock.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 3:15PM
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If I lived in the Pacific Northwest I'd definitely go heavy on c. maximas. They can mature fruit with fewer hot days and some are EXCELLENT in flavor.

Don't get me wrong. I love my c. moschatas. But the Pacific Northwest seems custom made for c. maximas.


    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 3:37PM
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planetes(7b (Cascadia - PNW))

Thanks guys.. I'll take a look at what I can find. I appreciate any info. I'm growing sugar pumpkins currently (C. Pepo) and they do pretty well but I'm not terribly impressed with their baking qualities.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 10:57PM
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I'm also in the Pacific Northwest and I'm not sure when to harvest my Cinderella pumpkins. They are nicely orange and are more than a foot in diameter, but a fingernail still leaves an indentation. I read somewhere that I should harvest them when nighttime temperatures are steadily below 50 degrees. We're having daytime temps in the 90s and nighttime temps in the high 40s. Should I wait until frost or harvest now and leave them outside to harden off? Thanks!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 3:32PM
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planetes(7b (Cascadia - PNW))

how much of a dent does the fingernail make? Is it actually piercing the skin? The stems should also turn a bit woody as the pumpkin finishes ripening. Typically I'd give them a couple more weeks but it's dependent on your specific conditions.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 6:22PM
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No, it isn't piercing the skin, but I didn't push too hard because I didn't want to break the skin. I'll check the stems - thanks. Do you know if they will be okay if the temps are below 50 but above freezing?

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 9:59PM
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planetes(7b (Cascadia - PNW))

The fruit should be fine anywhere about 35 degrees.. close to freezing becomes more risky but cucurbits are a lot more forgiving about northern climates than tomatoes or other southern crops. It's no coincidence pumpkins are associated with halloween and thanksgiving.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 11:11PM
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Great - thank you so much, planetes!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 11:09AM
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planetes(7b (Cascadia - PNW))

To clarify one thing, frost and low temps will kill a squash/pumpkin plant since they are very tender. I simply mean that you can leave the fruit out on the vine as long as the temps are at least mid 30s to finish ripening. If you see a frost coming and your pumpkins seem pretty ripe, go ahead and bring them in. You can finish them during the day out on the porch/patio/deck in the sun.

We're only a few weeks from harvest anyway. Typically in the northwest our harvest season falls in October but it varies by location. Here on the Sound, we tend to get skewed seasons because of the water's heat capacity so I'm not sure of your specific location.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 1:23PM
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Although this was a wet and cool season, by Butternuts had plenty of time to ripen off. In fact in recent weeks they have been setting more fruits which to me means the existing, large, pink fruits have been well taken care of. Still, I harvest the new fruits and steam them... quite good.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 4:49PM
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hi here in Quebec Canadian zone 4 I have grown a lot of varieties look at this picture and they are all very good to eat

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 22, 2011 at 10:25PM
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Planetes......I'm as far north in Wa. as you can get, next to the border.....I grew 50 heirloom types of Winter Squash.....I have Penn. Dutch Crooknecks which weighed at least "20"pounds..plus several other types..yes they grow here.....plus all the others did as well....some types produced a lot, some only a few

    Bookmark   October 24, 2011 at 11:15PM
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janezee(Sunset 5, 8b, Whidbey WA)

planetes, have you decided what to grow yet? I'm basically looking for the same as you are, and I'm just across the water from you. I get a lot of fog, and powdery mildew. My vines went down in late August, and I'm stuck with a lot of watery, useless spaghetti squash, and puny winter squash.
Since it never got above 80 this summer, and the nights were mostly in the upper 50's,
There's an absolutely wonderful reference page here:


I'm looking at the maximas as a result.
Did you know that there's a farm on the island that just grows Hubbard and pumpkins?
Baker Creek probably has the widest variety of seeds I've seen, plus Sand Hill Preservation in a close race. Fedco seeds has a lot, too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

    Bookmark   December 23, 2011 at 2:13PM
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Just a follow up on my harvesting question - I harvested my Cinderella pumpkins(Rouge vif d'Etampes, C. maxima) in mid-October. They made fantastic pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. The last pumpkin is keeping well in a cooler room of the house. I'll definitely plant this variety again. I'm also going to try Long Island Cheese Squash (C. moschata) this year.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 6:56PM
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