Tennesseans can expect plentiful pumpkins, gourds and winter squash this year.
Round, bright orange Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins are still popular for Halloween carving, but increasing numbers of colorful heirloom pumpkins, which are also edible, may be stealing the show.
Traditional cooking pumpkin varieties like the blue Australian or Jarrahdale pumpkin, the neon orange Cinderella pumpkin and the pinkish Long Island cheese pumpkin tend to be relatively flat. Their bold, unusual colors also make them trendy favorites for stacking on doorsteps in autumn tableaus, making them a smart choice no matter how they're displayed.
Tennessee pumpkin growers weathered a challenging growing season with cool, wet conditions, but ended with ideal harvest conditions for the 2015 crop. About 2,000 acres across the state are dedicated to pumpkins, colorful gourds and other hard squash. Loads of colorful orbs have been making their ways to area farmers markets, garden centers and other retail outlets since the first week of September.
A popular way to celebrate the season's pumpkins and other gorgeous décor is to make pumpkin picking an autumn adventure at local fun farms and orchards that also offer corn mazes, wagon rides, farm animal petting zoos and creative, farm-themed playgrounds.
The free Pick Tennessee Mobile App from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture allows users to find local farms and farmers markets, then map the way from the user's location. Find pumpkin patches and all sorts of autumn decor, including gourds, squash, Indian corn, straw bales and chrysanthemums for doorsteps, pies and table arrangements with www.picktnproducts.org and the Pick TN mobile app.