fairy tale pumpkins

If I had applied more water, this beauty would no doubt have been bigger. As it is, this French heirloom variety, Rouge vif d’Etampes  is as large as a dinner plate in diameter, and still growing. Plenty big enough, I think.

This is the first season I have succeeded with pumpkins on the allotment and I have been  analysing why.  We have had a relative drought here, but there has been a some rain, coming in a couple of useful soakings and I have watered them from time to time. The pumpkins, four plants in total, share one of my allotment beds with a courgette and a summer squash, so there are only 6 plants in a bed about 6 feet by 8, and they have ample room to sprawl away from the original bed too. I planted each young plant into a thick manure mulch and looked after them whilst they were tiny. I suspect each of those conditions has helped, but undoubtedly the warmth has been the greatest factor-it has been a long, warm growing season.

That and the fact I luckily picked the best variety for this season’s conditions too. I haven’t grown this one before, nor Atlantic Giant which is also expanding nicely. The seed came in a mixed pack from a well-known supermarket chain, so hats off to the seed buyers at Sainsburys! In fact, I bought the seeds last season but was busily using up Butternut squash, Hawk and Harrier varieties, all of which came to nothing, and didn’t get round to sowing them.

A little research into Rouge vif d’Etampes led me to a very interesting  and informative North American website  All about pumpkins, and this is what it said:-

“Cinderella Pumpkins are a unique French heirloom whose correct name is “Rouge vif D’Etampes”. The source of their nickname it that they resemble the pumpkin that Cinderella’s fairy godmother transformed into a carriage. This pumpkin is recorded as having been the variety cultivated by the Pilgrims and served at the second Thanksgiving dinner. This is our favorite pumpkin variety. There is something magical about them. Cinderellas make a delightful decorative accent for the fall season, but additionally their flavor is good for any pie or winter squash recipe.”

I am looking forward to harvest, but now I have three questions. When are pumpkins ready to harvest?  And where can I find magic mice to harness to them, and a wand of course.


17 thoughts on “fairy tale pumpkins

  1. Hello!
    Sending Birthday wishes your way for the 19th!
    These are magic pumpkins, just like the ones in the ladybird fairytale books.
    I don’t know when they are ready though, perhaps September?
    M x

  2. I think someone should get you this for your birthday:


    A beautiful book. Unfortunately, Goldman say this of RVd’E:

    “This one coasts on it’s looks alone, being insipid and watery. It’s enchanting, but I wouldn’t cook with it.”


    1. I am hoping she’s wrong! Will keep you posted on flavour trials-perhaps lack of water will intensify the flavour…..
      Looks like a wonderful book for the pumpkin enthusiast.

    1. Welcome John and I am very glad to have awakened your interest in growing a garden again. Just think of all the drawing material it would provide…. : )

      1. I can’t wait to see your work inspired by pumpkins! I shall post my pencil sketch very soon so everyone has forgotten it before they see yours! : )

  3. I too hope that she is wrong about Vif D’Etampes. I grew some huge (15 – 20 kilos each!) pumpkins last year, I think they were Hundredweight, and they were too watery, so this year I deliberately tried to find some that would be firmer and nuttier and VdE appeared to fit the bill when I researched it. They are growing well and looking good so fingers crossed!

    1. Let me know how yours perform-I will have to post here about the cooking properties after the book’s gloomy predictions.

  4. So you remembered your camera at last 🙂

    They’re ready when the skin is hardened off. Tap the pumpkin and if you get a good firm sound then it’s ready. You’ll probably need to prop them on something to get the underside to ripen if we get any rain, whilst it’s dry you can leave them as they are. You can safely leave them out until the first frosts.

  5. Hi, I’m growing the same variety although mine are a lot more yellow. It’s my first pumpkins so looking forward to seeing how they come out.

  6. I love the photos … they are mouthwatering. I am a new crafter/blogger/photographer at annabelleserendipity.blogspot.com and am just this year getting heavily into vegetables in small raised beds. It has been such fun and my butternut squash are doing so well – cannot wait to eat them!

    1. Hi Annabelle-glad you came over and delighted to hear about the success of your raised beds too. It has been a pretty good year for veg growing, on the whole, hasn’t it? I must have another go at growing butternut squash-hope you enjoy yours.

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