Monday, September 14, 2009

It's Almost Pumpkin Time!

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.


  1. We moved into a house that my cousin formerly rented. They left an odd "grey/blue" pumpkin to rot (and it did before we got moved into the house). This spring one pumpkin vine appeared in our front flower bed from where the pumpkin fell off the porch and rotted.
    My mother & husband had a bet on whether we could transplant the pitiful looking vine to the backyard and encourage it to live. Well my husband won. The vine not only lived but it covers our entire yard with runners. Our yard is probably 40x60 yards! We literally can NOT mow or even weed eat the yard for the pumpkins. So far we can cut 25 pumpkins and there are at least that many more (if not more) to cut in a few days. We have 3 volleyball sized pumpkins in a 20+ foot tree nearing the top. They just sway in the breeze. LOL
    From my research they appear to be Jarrahdale pumpkins. I wish there was some way to make sure of what type pumpkin that they are.
    We have just fell in love with these pumpkins and many family members come to take photos on a regular basis as they just can't believe their eyes.

  2. Tammy don't you just love the color? It's so unexpected. I found a third pumpkin hidden in the groundcover and it is the most perfectly shaped one of the bunch. But each one seems to have it's charm. I'm glad you had such good luck with them.