Imagine a brilliant rainbow of colors spanning red, orange blue and yellow.
All these colors and more can be found in pumpkins, squash and gourds at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s AppleHouse, located at 7485 Rolling Acres Road, Victoria.
John and Jenny Thull, with the Arboretum, are responsible for the wide variety of pumpkins, squash and gourds. This year they planted over 300 different varieties, John said, adding at the time of this interview they weren’t sure yet if all 300 kinds took.
Visitors of the AppleHouse are in luck. Several of the pumpkins and squash grown by the Thulls make delicious additions to a hearty fall meal.
Most fall food lovers are familiar with the classics, such as spaghetti and butternut squash. But what do the growers themselves enjoy eating? The Thulls like the Australian Butter squash and Marina Di Chioggia, a bumpy blue pumpkin that is a great for making gnocchi.
Another of the Thull’s favorites is the Speckled Hound squash. Both as a grower and as a consumer. It sets a lot of nice fruit and has a great flavor and perfectly moist texture, John said.
The harvest will be available in the AppleHouse as long as the store is open, which is typically through the end of November and sometimes into early December. Apples and grapes will also be for sale while supplies last.
The people responsible for naming the varieties were surely creative. Names include the grizzly bear pumpkin, peanut pumpkin, fireball pumpkin and gremlin gourd. A few daisy gourds arranged in a vase would be a unique and beautiful substitute for a bouquet of flowers.
The Thulls enjoy educating people about the huge diverse groups of pumpkins and squash that exist in different parts of the world. At the Arb, the Thulls have pumpkins and squash from all the places where they are able to grow, such as Australia, Asia, Europe, Africa and South America.
“There’s so much variety within the pumpkins and squash that most people don’t even realize it. People maybe have seen like white pumpkins and think ‘that’s exotic.’ But as you can see here there’s a whole rainbow of colors,” John said.
But the festive fun doesn’t stop at pumpkin picking. North Star Doughnuts will have its food truck parked at the AppleHouse from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday-Sunday. The truck offers piping hot apple cider doughnuts, hot apple cider and apple cider slushies.