These magnificent autumn vegetables are easily forgotten as way back in spring when we're busy sowing summer crops in the Polytunnel, Halloween pumpkins are quite possibly the last thing on our mind.
Growing your own pumpkins is easy, rewarding and lots of fun, especially for children who can't wait to harvest colourful, monster pumpkins to make spooky lanterns for Halloween.
If you remembered to plant pumpkins this spring and you've given them your love and affection to grow...then I'm sure you're already wondering "when is it time to harvest?"
There are many indications that your pumpkin is ready to harvest but leave them on the vine for as long as possible to ripen in the Poly Tunnel (be sure to harvest them before the first frost though) The "Halloween lantern" variety are predominately orange in colour and chances are, if your pumpkin is orange all the way around its ripe and ready to pick. On the other hand, some pumpkins are ripe when they are still completely green...in this case use a fingernail and gently try to puncture the pumpkin's skin. If the skin dents but does not puncture, the pumpkin is ready to be cut from the vine, alternatively, give the pumpkin a good smack. If the pumpkin sounds hollow, it's ready to be picked.
When you're happy the pumpkin is ripe, cut each fruit from the stem leaving several inches of the stem attached. Keep your pumpkin stored in a well-ventilated place until you are ready to use it!
Small pumpkins can look just as effective as giant pumpkins and are much easier for young children to handle. There are lots of free templates online that you download, from simple to elaborate designs. These will really impress your friends, family and trick or treaters!
Don't forget, spectacular pumpkins are not only a fun Halloween decoration, but they can make several tasty treats as well. Pumpkins can be made into sweet or savory dishes and their seeds are healthy and fun to roast!