Dont Let The Frost Hit The Pumpkin
Don’t Let the Frost Hit the Pumpkin
It’s October which means one thing: Halloween! The entire month leads up to one ghoulish, scary and fun holiday! Halloween just wouldn’t be Halloween without pumpkins. Jack o lanterns, roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie and more await trick or treaters when they arrive home lugging bags of candy. There are lots of myths about growing and harvesting pumpkins. To make sure that you have lots of winking and smiling jack o lanterns follow these tips:
1) Pumpkins need a head start, especially in cooler areas. They need at least 100-120 frost free days above 50 degrees in order to mature. If you want to grow your own pumpkins next year, start seeds indoors between two and four weeks before the last frost.
2) Pumpkins, contrary to popular belief, do not benefit from a frost. A frost will turn your pumpkin to mush–you need to protect your pumpkin from the cold. If a frost is predicted, bring your pumpkins inside.
3) If you go to the pumpkin patch to pick a pumpkin, be sure to cut the pumpkin from the vine leaving about six inches of stem. You can trim the stem more when you get home. Never carry the pumpkin by the stem because if the stem breaks off, bacteria can grow in its place and cause the pumpkin to rot.
4) Pick a pumpkin that is evenly colored and firm to the touch. Any softness will grow larger and the pumpkin will rot before Halloween.
5) Use a serrated knife to carve your pumpkin. It is easier to cut through the pumpkin and you will have less of a chance of cutting yourself.
6) If you want to grow a particular variety next year, it is best not to save the seeds from this year’s variety but instead buy new seeds. Pumpkins are part of the large plant family that includes squash, cucumbers and other similar plants. These plants cross pollinate easily, and can produce seeds that will not be fertile the next year. It is better to just roast and eat the pumpkin seeds!
7) Pumpkins can be part of the organic garden, just like other vegetables and fruits. In fact, pumpkins might fare better in an organic garden. For pumpkins to grow large and beautiful, the flowers of the pumpkin vine need to be visited by as many as twelve bees in one day! In organic gardens with lots of flowers and few pesticides, bees are more likely to visit and pollinate the pumpkin flower adequately.
For a fun story about pumpkins that kids and adults love, check out The Pumpkin Blanket by Deborah Turney Zagwyn. Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without pumpkins!