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John Fulton

John Fulton
Former County Extension Director

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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis

Pumpkin Selection and Care For Decoration

Posted by John Fulton -

This week really makes it seem like fall, and one of the favorite fall decorations is the pumpkin. As a matter of fact, pumpkins are ripening ahead of normal. It's been a challenging year with many of the diseases common in a wet season, and having a cool year as well. Following are some of the cardinal rules for selecting and keeping pumpkins, particularly with an early harvest season:

  • Choose a pumpkin with a stem and never carry it by the stem. Pumpkins without a stem will not last long.
  • Select a pumpkin with a flat bottom, so it will stand upright
  • Avoid pumpkins with holes, cuts or soft spots. These areas will rot.
  • Light colored pumpkins are easier to carve because the skin is not as hard as darker orange colored ones, but they will not keep as well.
  • Wash the pumpkin with warm water and let it dry before carving. Use of a small amount of dishwashing soap in the warm water may help extend the life of the pumpkin.
  • To make the pumpkin last longer, keep it in a cool place until ready to carve. After carving, coat the cuts with petroleum jelly.
  • Carving should only be done three days ahead of Halloween. After cutting, the pumpkin will deteriorate rapidly.
  • The use of a candle in the pumpkin will also make it deteriorate rapidly, so many have gone to battery powered lights to show off their carving ability.

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