This time of year is pumpkin picking season (well in the southern hemisphere). Home gardeners everywhere are bringing in their crop, and if you take a drive to the edge of town, I bet you will find a roadside store selling them too.
However you get your hands on some pumpkins, here is how to make them last for the whole season.
Pick them correctly
Wait until the vines are dying. We get frost around here, so usually the first frost kills the vines, and we know it is time to pick the pumpkins. When the vines are dead, it is also easier to see the pumpkins. I have read that a really big frost will damage the pumpkins, but usually the first frost of the season is fairly light. By waiting until the frost., you ensure maximum growing time.
When you do pick the pumpkins, use some secateurs to cut the stem at least 10 cm off the pumpkin, and leave the stem attached. Let the stem dry on the pumpkin and just leave it there until you are ready to use it. This helps to prevent the pumpkin rotting.
Of course if you are buying pumpkins, buy them with the stem attached if you can.
Avoid carrying the pumpkin by the stem so that it doesn’t snap off (though your little chap might forget to do this every now and then… fortunately he is so cute that we will forgive him).
Store them properly
Pumpkins store best off the ground, in a cool, dark, airy place. We use our shed. They will rot on the bottom if they sit on a solid surface such as metal. You can use some old wooden lattice to sit them on to allow air to flow underneath. I’ve also read that spreading a thick layer of straw or some cardboard underneath them can help (though I have never tried this one). We have some bamboo poles set up on which we balance the pumpkins which seems to work well.
Store them in a single layer, rather than piling them up, as this will also encourage air flow. Move them around.
If they are really dirty, it is a good idea to give them a wipe down, but you want to keep them dry. A little dirt will brush off easily after a few days.
You will find that pumpkins with a thicker skin will last longer.
Got any pumpkins? How do you keep yours?