Each January, gardeners look forward to the arrival of new seed catalogs.
In recent years, an increased interest in gardening has expanded the availability of hybrid, as well as rediscovered heirloom varieties, from around the world.
You might find only one or two types of green beans or winter squash at your grocery store, and a few more at the farmers' market, but many seed catalogs offer hundreds of choices and the biological diversity is amazing.
Here's an A to Z listing with some of the many winter squash and gourd seeds to consider. Winter squash, of various Cucurbita species, is fall harvested and can be stored in a dry, cool space at about 45-55 degrees. Most have firm yellow or orange flesh, are delicious roasted and filled with brown sugar and butter.
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Orange, trumpet-like flowers that bloom along their vines are a bonus edible delicacy. Gourds, on the other hand, can be dried and painted or carved into scoops or bowls.
A winter squash and gourd abecedary
Acorn. Try the dark-green skinned Table Queen variety. Interesting ribbed acorn shapes, about 4 inches wide.
Butternut squash. A smooth, cream-colored rind covers buttery flavored flesh. Vines resist squash borer insects. Great pumpkin substitute.
Cushaw. Think big, up to 25 pounds. Green and white ribbon stripes line these tasty ornamentals.
Dill's Atlantic Giant. A person could fit inside one of these spectacularly huge, state-fair-ribbon-winning pumpkins. The world record: 1,469 pounds.
Galeux d' Eysines. A pinkish pumpkin that appears to be plastered with peanut shells. Makes a tasty cream soup.
Black Futsu. Speckled leaves and a rumpled rind that ages from dark green to black make this visually interesting. Has a nutty flavor.
Georgia Candy Roaster. Here's a long, 10 pound creamsicle colored squash with a blue-green end. It has a sweet flavor, which makes for delicious pies.
Blue Hubbard. Weighing up to 40 pounds, this blushing baby blue, teardrop shaped squash has a sweet, nutty flavor.
Indian Serpent Gourd. This unusual Asian gourd, Trichosanthes cucumerina, produces long, snake-like fruit.
Jarrahdale. Attractive for a porch harvest display, and then delicious baked for dinner, this midsize Australian heirloom is a ribbed squash with a powdery blue-grey surface.
Red Kuri. These are smooth, shiny red-skinned pumpkins with pointed "candy kiss" shaped tops.
Lakota. An heirloom squash from the Lakota Sioux.
Marina di Chioggia earns its nickname Green Goblin from its ribbed, bumpy texture and marbled color.
New England Pie Classic. Five-pound pumpkins with the perfect sweetness for pies.
Ornamental assortment. Oddly shaped and multicolored small squash, usually marketed as gourds.
Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck. Make pumpkin butter with this long-necked Amish variety that resembles butternut squash.
Queensland Blue. Use this rich, dark greenish-blue Australian squash with deep orange flesh as both a serving bowl and source for soup.
Rouge Vif d'Etampes. An old French heirloom, this bright reddish-orange squash is also known as the Cinderella pumpkin, as it resembles her classic coach.
Speckled Swan. With a long neck, bulbous body and smaller head, this gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) resembles a swan.
Turk's Turban. Exotic heirloom Turkish turban shapes in orange, green and white colors, are culinary delights.
Ukrainian. From the Chersonskaya region, this is a round and grey skinned squash with a meaty, light orange pulp.
Vegetable Spaghetti. The texture of this oval yellow winter squash is spaghetti-like and stringy.
Wee-B-Little. Three-inch mini pumpkins. An All America Selections winner in 1999.
Mexican X-Top. Edible silvery seeds, yellow flesh, and flecked leaves make this cushaw-type Mexican heirloom unique.
Yugoslavian Finger Fruit. It appears as if five pairs of fingers are poking out around each little cream-colored squash.
African Zulu. This Calabash gourd has been used as a drinking cup, a basis for beaded or painted art work and a percussion instrument.