No garden plant gets more attention in October than the pumpkin. If you are interested in growing your own pumpkins for pies, soups, and decorations, you will want to ensure that you are able to harvest in time to enjoy them throughout the season.
The real key to harvesting pumpkins for Halloween lies in making sure that your pumpkins are ripe in time. To make that happen, pay careful attention to the seed packaging. The important information you are looking for is the number of days to harvest. On average, many pumpkin varieties will mature in 120 days. Armed with this knowledge, select the date that you want to harvest pumpkins for Halloween and count backward from that date, allowing an additional 2-3 weeks as a “just in case” buffer. In most zones, May and June are the most common months to plant in most of the country.
To ensure a good quality and long lasting pumpkin for your holiday decorations, make sure that your pumpkins are fully mature and ripened. Press your fingernail into the flesh. If the pumpkin is ripe, it will resist being punctured. When you have found the perfect specimen, cut it from the vine leaving approximately 3-4 inches of stalk. This will give the cut pumpkin a longer life.
If possible, allow your pumpkin to cure in the sun for a few days. This will toughen the skin and help it to last, especially if you are going to be cutting a Jack-O-Lantern. If you have extra pumpkins, curing them for the same period and then storing them in a cool, dark place will keep them beautiful for months.