Nothing screams the fall quite like pumpkins do. This crop comes in all different sizes and serves countless purposes. With pumpkins, you can even make everything from pies to decorations out of it. We found that the best pumpkins come from those we yield ourselves. Check out our tips on pumpkin harvesting and storing pumpkin seeds below.
First thing’s first: Make Sure the Pumpkin is Ready
For starters, it’s important that the foliage is shading the pumpkin. One way to ensure this is by cutting the foliage back so that the pumpkin ripens faster. Also, leave the pumpkin on the vine until it reaches the exact shade you want. As soon as the pumpkin is picked, the color won’t change at all. Besides that, don’t pick the pumpkin until a fingernail can’t penetrate the skin. The skin needs to feel hard, that’s when you know it’s finished growing. If the stem starts to crack, that’s a sign that the pumpkin is ready for harvesting.
Pumpkin Harvesting Safety Tips
When harvesting, it’s vital to wear gloves because the stems have a tendency of being very prickly. No one wants to get hurt, so use caution.
Some people choose to use a sharp knife to cut the pumpkin off its vine, but we recommend that you leave a handle of at least four inches on it.
Don’t use the stems to carry pumpkins because they might not be able to support the weight, which results in it breaking off.
Once the pumpkin is cut open, expose it to the sun for at least 10 days to cure it. This ends up hardening the skin so that a barrier is formed and moisture is lost. By this happening, the pumpkin is able to sit longer.
If there’s a chance of a frost taking place while the pumpkin is curing, cover it with hay or floating row covers. Keep the plant at a temperature between 50 to 60 degrees, so that it can last for roughly six months.
Make sure not to stack pumpkins when storing them. If the skins touch, bruising and rotting will happen.
Throw away any pumpkins that are decaying and put leftover vines on a compost pile.
To store pumpkin seeds, start by gathering them up and rinsing off any pulp. Then, lay them on a screen so that they’re ventilated evenly from all angles. As soon as the seeds are dried, place them in an envelope and put them in a cool spot where there’s air but no sunlight.
Many people chose to store seeds in a jar with some kind of anti-desiccant, to preserve them. If they’re stored properly, they will last for a couple of years.