The Great Pumpkin!
by Bob Matthews
Going out to a pumpkin patch to pick pumpkins, is a fun filled rite of the fall season. Whether you go out to a field filled with pumpkins, or get them from a roadside stand, we want to be certain that you get the absolutely best pumpkin for carving, decorating and eating!
I have been growing pumpkins since I was a wee little lad. Which, by the way, was a long, long time ago. Friends and family members will attest that Halloween is my favorite holiday. Our website is the direct result of two hobbies running amuck, as I am both an avid gardener and a fanatic on the internet. I do not profess to know everything there is to know about gardening, but I continue to read, experiment, listen and learn as much as I can about gardening and especially pumpkins. It is with this knowledge and a whole lot of fanatical intensity that I created a website in order to share with visitors a little of what I know. Things like “Pumpkins are called Long keepers” and a healthy, uncarved pumpkin can last to Thanksgiving and beyond.
We intend to bring you both the serious and the humorous side of pumpkins. Our website, pumpkinnook.com, has been developed to be informative, but in a light hearted way. As a shrine and library to pumpkins, we seek to be both comprehensive and unique. To borrow a phrase, our Motto is: “We will leave no pumpkin unturned in our research efforts.”
I hope you find these tips useful in fulfilling your search for the perfect “Long Keeper”.
How to Select the Perfect Pumpkin
-Select a pumpkin that is completely orange. A partially green pumpkin might not ripen any further.
-Size is an important factor. Medium pumpkins are best for pumpkin carving. Small pumpkins are better for cooking.
-Do not pick a pumpkin that is too big for you to carry, especially if you have back problems.
-Does the shade of orange matter? If so, there are hundreds of varieties, some with different shades of orange.
-Selecting the shape is a matter of personal preference. Some like ’em tall. Others, like ’em round.
-Often, people select shapes to fit the carving patterns they will use. Pick your pattern before you go.
-Do not lift or carry a pumpkin by its stem. The pumpkin stem gives it character.
-A ripe pumpkin has a hard shell that does not dent or scratch easily when pressing on it with a thumbnail. Do this on the back or bottom of the fruit…never on the face.
-Examine the entire pumpkin carefully for soft spots. If you find even one soft spot, go on to the next pumpkin.
-Check the pumpkin for cracks and splits. If you find one, examine it to be sure it is not turning into a soft spot or has mold inside of the crack.
-Look for bugs and insects. Specifically, look for holes in the pumpkin, which are indicative of insect problems.
If you are out in the pumpkin patch picking a pumpkin:
-Bring a small wagon with you. It’s easier to haul tired kids and pumpkins.
-Wear boots or old sneakers. It could be wet and muddy in the pumpkin patch.
-Pick a pumpkin that you can carry back with you.
-If smaller children are carrying pumpkin, pick smaller pumpkins. Remember those little arms will probably get tired before reaching your car.
-Bring a sharp knife or pruner.
-Cut the vine on either side of the stem. After you get it home, you can trim off the remaining pieces of vine, and cut the stem at the perfect spot.
For everything you ever wanted to know about pumpkins and more, log on to pumpkinnook.com. Marshall also maintains a website about gardening in general – gardenersnet.com. Look for more excerpts from Bob in upcoming Urban Garden columns.