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Halloween Decorating: Finding the Perfect Pumpkin

It is pumpkin-picking season and whether you head to your garden or to the local pumpkin patch, Burpee’s gardening experts want to help you pick the perfect pumpkin. We have put together several “spooky” clues on how to identify one that is picture perfect.

 Clue #1: When you knock on the shell of your pumpkin, it makes an eerie hollow sound. The ‘hollow’ sound means the pumpkin is ripe. Ripe pumpkins are easier to carve. So if you plan to make a jack o’ lantern, listen carefully!

 Clue #2: When you place the pumpkin on a flat, even surface, it mysteriously stays in place despite its round shape. A pumpkin that sits level on its own is ideal not only for carving but also for display.

 Clue #3: The pumpkin has no cracks, holes or soft spots. Whether you plan to carve your pumpkin, paint it or display it unadorned, you’ll need a great foundation.

 Clue #4: The stem is still attached to the top of the pumpkin and when you run your hand on the top of the stem, it’s hard, dry and a bit scratchy. A somewhat dry, brittle stem means that your pumpkin is healthy and is likely free of disease and mold. This creepy clue is good news for pumpkin-pickers.

If your pumpkin exhibits all of our “spooky” clues above, chances are you’ve found the perfect pumpkin to feature in your holiday display. Don’t forget to carry the pumpkin by the bottom so you don’t risk breaking off the stem.

A carved pumpkin can go downhill rapidly in warm and wet weather conditions, so Burpee recommends that you carve your pumpkin no earlier than three days prior to Halloween festivities.
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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • It's worth the effort it takes to rig supports at planting time for the tall garden plants. Relatively self-reliant standbys such as hollyhocks, cleome, cosmos, and sunflowers are still vulnerable to gusty winds, heavy summer downpours, running kids and dogs or stray flying objects like soccer balls. Tie single-stemmed plants individually. Use green bamboo stakes or equally sturdy sticks long enough to be within six inches of the mature height of the plant after being sunk in the ground 10 or 12 inches. Fasten the stem to the stake with unobtrusive green string or plant ties wrapped first around the stake, then loosely around the stem then back to the stake.