The time has come to start working on those fall displays. My son is already gearing up for his annual trip to the pumpkin patch to pick out pumpkins, gourds, mums and straw bales. There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting the ideal pumpkin or gourd.
Look for gourds and pumpkins that are fully mature. Choose pumpkins that have a hard shell and a shiny surface. A good specimen should not be easily punctured by a fingernail. Pumpkins with a soft shell may have been picked too early, which may rot at a faster rate. It is also wise to check for firm green stems. Stems that are weak can be a sign of foliar diseases.
Select mature gourds that are dull in color with stems or vines that are totally dry. There is no need to test the gourds with your fingernail. You may puncture or dent the skin which reduces the quality of the gourd.
Once you choose the perfect pumpkin or gourd, they must be cared for properly. Disinfecting and washing the pumpkins and gourds help to preserve them so that you can enjoy them for a longer period. Wash or wipe down the exterior with a dilute bleach solution. I use about one tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water. This helps to remove bacteria and fungal spores.
Many homeowners including myself display pumpkins and gourds on straw. Keep them off the ground to prevent rotting and accumulation of moisture. They can also be placed on upturned flowerpots, bricks or inside a cardboard box.
I hope these tips will help you pick out and preserve the perfect pumpkin or gourd for your autumn display. I cannot wait to visit the pumpkin patch to see the many varieties of pumpkins, gourds and mums! I always look forward to seeing what my son will pick. He wants everything to look good for his scarecrow Ben!
Photo Credit: Julie Morgan-TEMG