I grew Rouge Vif D’Etampes French heirloom pumpkins for the first time and here are my thoughts
I was feeling lazy this summer, so instead of planting one type of pumpkin for jack o’ lanterns and another for cooking (mmm, pie…), we planted a single variety to do both.
The pumpkin we chose is an old French heirloom variety called Rouge Vif D’Etampes. I like it because it has that “Old World Cinderella’s Coach” squash look – flattened, deep ribbing and a brick red/orange color that really makes it stand out from the yellow-orange pumpkins we’re used to seeing at the market.
My wife voted for this one because a chef friend of hers told her this is the pumpkin to use when it comes to making fall foods like pumpkin soup, cookies, and of course, pumpkin pie.
Growing Rouge Vif D’Etampes Pumpkins
These pumpkins are slow growers. The seed packet said 105 days to maturity so I seeded them in a couple of 4-inch pots in the greenhouse on July 14, figuring they’d be ready by Halloween.
We transplanted them into the southernmost bed in the vegetable garden on August 1st shortly after clearing the spent sunflowers and beans from the first half of the season. I didn’t bother adding any fertilizers or amendments because I figured the beans had loaded enough nitrogen in the soil to ensure the pumpkins had plenty to eat.
I am glad I planted the two pots of pumpkin seedlings several feet apart, because, as I came to find out, these guys need a lot of room. A really lot.
They’re big vining plants with leaves nearly two feet across and sprawling for 20 feet or more in every direction. I planted a total of four pumpkins, and they took over around 500 square feet of garden space.
They crawled over fences, ate the bird bath, and made a good run at taking over the tomatoes before the cool, damp nights of late September slowed (not stopped) their advance.
We picked the first pumpkin – an 18 pounder – on October 10, just 93 days after planting the seeds. We picked the second and third pumpkins, both larger than the first, this past weekend at around day 100.
Currently there are still another nine or 10 pumpkins on the vine in various stages of ripeness from just flowered to almost finished.
The recent spate of warm weather seems to have given a couple of the plants their second wind as well. We’ve got new leaf growth and flowers, so we may still be pulling pumpkins from the garden come Thanksgiving at the end of November.
Oh, the Color!
The young Rouge Vif D’Etampes are more or less the same orange-yellow of other pumpkins, but once they start to mature, they deepen into dark, reddish-orange that’s almost dayglow in color. Some of them are also streaked with a lighter orange that almost looks painted on.
It’s a very attractive pumpkin both in the field and on display.
How’s the Eating?
That’s a good question. These pumpkins are squat and thick-fleshed, so the seed cavity is bound to be small compared to your standard pumpkin. Given the deep color, I expect the flesh to be fairly dense and not overly “squashy”, if you know what I mean.
However, we won’t be able to answer this question until Terri has done some actual cooking with them. Stay tuned.
Overall, Rouge Vif D’Etampes is a very hearty and showy old world pumpkin. Perhaps not the greatest Jack o’ Lantern, but I bet it’ll make a great magic coach if you’ve got a fairy godmother and some mice to serve as coachmen.
I recommend this one because it’s low maintenance, doesn’t seem to have any pest problems, and produces three or four 15 – 20 pound fruit from a single vine.
Just make sure you give it plenty of space in which to grow. If you don’t, it’ll just take the space anyway.
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