Halloween is hands down my favorite holiday. So it makes perfect sense as a gardener to grow a few of my own decorations for the season. I love pumpkins of all shapes, sizes and colors. The more variety I can have, the better. The drawback, however, is that the vines can be huge. The Jarrahdale pumpkin pictured left is on a vine that spans over 12 feet. So as much as I would love to have one in each color, I must pick and choose. This year, the blue-gray Jarrahdale and some mini pumpkins won out.
It is about this time of year that my pumpkin vines start to look a little ragged. This means that they are about done producing for the season and it will soon be time to harvest my pumpkins. But just how do you know when your pumpkin is ready to be harvested? Just follow these tips and you will be able to enjoy your pumpkin at Halloween (and if you don’t carve it) and beyond:
1. Your pumpkin is ready for harvest when they are the appropriate color and the skin has hardened enough that you can’t easily poke a hole in it with your fingernail.
2. Cut the pumpkin from the vine leaving about 3-4 inches of stem with a pair of pruning shears. Leaving a stem is not only more attractive, but it stops the pumpkin from rotting at the top.
3. Never carry the pumpkin by the stem. It may not be able to hold the weight of the pumpkin.
4. Allow them to “cure” in the sun for about 10 days to cause the stem to harden and dry.
5. Once cured, store pumpkins in a cool location (50-55 degrees) to promote longevity.
The photo of the Jarrahdale above was taken about 3 weeks ago and it has since ripened to a beautiful blue-grey color. Since the weather is still warm and I’m not quite ready to start decorating for Halloween, however, I’ve decided to leave the pumpkin on the vine just a bit longer.
How has your pumpkin growing season been this year? Let us know in the comments below.