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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

  • The easiest and best place to store excess turnips, parsnips, leeks, onions, carrots and similar root crops is in the garden. They actually become sweeter and tastier after a frost.
    Before the ground freezes, cover the beds with a thick layer of straw or chopped leaves to insulate the soil and keep its temperature even. A sheet of plastic will keep the mulch in place.
    To harvest root crops, simply roll back the plastic, push aside the leaves/straw, and lift the roots from the soil with a spading fork. Replace the covering to keep your "root cellar" insulated all winter. With this method, you could be harvesting sweet carrots and parsnips in January, even if there's snow on the ground!