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Communal garden

Pumpkin Harvesting and Storage


Congratulations. You are the first grower in your neighborhood to have a large, ripe pumpkin! And, its shape is so nice and round. Your only problem is, it is now mid-August and Halloween is over two months away. If you leave it on the vine, you fear it will surely rot, or the bugs will get to it.  Don't worry or fret. Properly stored, pumpkins are "long keepers". Here are some guidelines and tips for picking and storing pumpkins, so they last until Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Harvesting Pumpkins:

  • Leave the fruit on the vine as long as you can.

  • Measure it every few days to see if it is still growing

  • Do not pick it until the skin has reached full color and has hardened.

  • Use a sharp knife to cut off the stem at the vine. Be careful not to damage the vine, if there are more pumpkins still on it.

  • A good pumpkin has a good stem. Do not carry the pumpkin by the stem. Carry the pumpkin out of the field by holding it in the palms of your hands. If you plan on selling them, a pumpkin with a broken or missing stem loses much of its price on the market.

  • Wash the pumpkin off completely.


Tip: Putting a board under your ripening pumpkin is a common practice to deter bugs, moles and rotting from underneath.



  • As a rule of thumb, pumpkins can normally be stored for 30 - 90 days.

  • For long term storage, wash the pumpkins in a very mild chlorine solution. Use one cup (8 ounces) of chlorine to one gallon of water. This will destroy bacterias which may cause the fruit to rot.

  • Allow the pumpkin to dry completely.

  • Store the pumpkin in a cool, dry and dark place(if possible)

  • Avoid hot and humid places, even if storing for only a couple of weeks.

  • Pumpkins are best stored on a board or piece of cardboard.

  • Do not store the fruit on a cement floor, as they tend to rot.

  • Do not store the fruit on a good rug in case it was to rot, as it would ruin the rug.

Note: The above process can be used for most fruits and vegetables. Although storage time will vary.


Pumpkin Picking Tips

Going out to a pumpkin patch to pick pumpkins, is a fun filled rite of the fall season. Whether you go out into a field filled with bright, orange pumpkins, or buy them at a roadside stand, we want to be certain that you select the absolutely best pumpkin for carving, decorating and eating!

Pumpkins are called "Long keepers". A healthy, uncarved pumpkin can last to Thanksgiving and beyond.

How to Pick Perfect Pumpkins:

Look for a pumpkin that is completely orange. Partially green pumpkins 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, with many 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 carving pattern before you go.

The stem gives character to a pumpkin. Do not lift or carry a pumpkins by the stem. The stem will likely break.

A ripe pumpkin has a hard shell that does not dent or scratch easily, when pressing on it with a thumbnail. Do this test 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 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.


Pumpkin Patch Picking Tips:

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 will be carrying the pumpkins, pick smaller one. Remember those little arms will get tired, long before reaching the 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.  

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