It’s PUMPKIN season! This is our favourite time of year here on the farm for many reasons but pumpkins in all their pumpkin-ness is certainly close to the top!
Why do you pick them so early? In this part of Alberta we need to plant our pumpkins as early as we can in order to get a long enough growing season. As soon as we get our first hard frost we send the troops into the field and pick every last pumpkin. We do this, enough if they are not all orange or ripe, because once the leaves die from that first frost the pumpkins are no longer protected. If left in the field, the pumpkins will rot and get mushy with each frost and the colder temperatures.
How do you store them? Due to the volume of pumpkins we pick, for selling and for shooting out of the cannons, we store our pumpkins under large tents, on straw and in boxes, giving them as much air as we can. When the temperatures dip too low, we put heaters under the tents to keep them nice and warm – 10-12 degrees Celsius as much as we can.
Did you know, that picking a local pumpkin will likely mean it will last longer to begin with?!
When I pick out my pumpkins, how do I keep them their best at my home? In order to keep pumpkins their very best from September all the way to the end of October there are a few simple things you can do.
First, make sure you pick the very best pumpkin, with no mushy spots or lots of blemishes.
Second, once you get home, we recommend cleaning your pumpkin with a very mild chlorine or bleach solution, or a solution of 1:1 vinegar and water. You can use a cloth and wipe the pumpkin or you can dip the pumpkin in the solution. This will make sure to destroy any bacteria or fungus that may be on the pumpkin and may cause it to get mushy spot and rot.
Secondly, make sure if your pumpkin is fresh-picked that you give it time to cure and dry completely. You can leave them in the warm sunshine for a week (taking it in at night) or leave them in your house for about a week – ideally on a light cloth or placemat.
After this, store the pumpkin in a cool, dry place and not on a cement floor, as they tend to rot on cement. Try to make sure the pumpkins are not touching each other and they have something that allows them to “breathe” underneath. You could set them on shelving or straw, some cardboard or some pieces of wood. The main thing to remember is to give the pumpkins air all around. Some people suggest even making a sling for the pumpkins to hang in made out of an old pair of tights or an old t-shirt.
If you have lots of pumpkins, like we do, and you would like to store them in a big heap, (maybe for the decorating factor or because you picked so many!) make sure to regularly check the pumpkins for bad spots and take those out of the pile right away!
We hope you enjoy your pumpkins for a long wonderful FALL season! Keep calm and autumn on!