It’s Pumpkin Season!

It’s Pumpkin Season!

Harvesting and Caring for All Your Fall Goodies

As the end of October creeps up on us, you want to make sure your garden is ready for Halloween and beyond.


Here are some garden tips and ideas for the spookiest time of the year.


Time to Harvest Those Pumpkins


It seems like yesterday when we gave you some early fall gardening tips like when to plant your pumpkins. 


By now some of those pumpkins may be ready to harvest and used for festive fall and Halloween decorations and dishes. How do you know when the time is right to harvest? More on that in a little bit.


First, let’s take a little time to tend to other gardening issues. You’re probably still pulling out some stubborn weeds and clearing out garden debris from your summer and early fall plants. Keep up the hard work!


After that, make sure you turn your soil and compost before the temperatures drop. Enjoying some fall evenings around the bonfire? Make sure to save some of that wood ash to incorporate into your soil.


Now is also a great time to fertilize the grass and your rose bushes.  And don’t forget: Since the sun is lower in the sky, plants need less water. Be sure to adjust your irrigation clock if you have one.


Why do all this hard work so late in the year? November is a great month to plant in the San Diego area. The cool, moist air and warm soil make for excellent growing conditions. Check back next month to read about our favorite plants and vegetables to start in November. 

harvesting pumpkins and fall squash in a box

How to Harvest & Store Fall Pumpkins


Your pumpkins are starting to get that nice, even color making you think of Halloween and Thanksgiving feasts. So when is the right time to pick them?


There are a couple of ways to check if your pumpkins are ready for harvest. Give it a few thumps. If you hear a hollow sound, your pumpkin is probably ready. Another thing you can do is check the outer skin. Simply press your fingernail into the pumpkin’s skin. If it resists puncture, it is ready to pick.


Are your pumpkins ready? Don’t tear them off the vine. Instead, use a sharp knife or pruners to cut the pumpkins off the vine. Make sure you leave between two and four inches of stem. This will help them keep longer.


How can you make your pumpkins last? Curing them can help them keep for up to three months. Do this by brushing off any excess dirt and placing them in a warm, sunny area for just over a week. After that, get the pumpkins out of direct sunlight and keep them in a cool place–dark bedroom, cellar, or root cellar–that stays between 55 and 60 degrees F.

More Fall Fun 

Pumpkins aren’t the only plant peaking this time of year. Mums are a great plant to add that touch of fall color to your garden. Also, your Japanese Maples, Yellow Bell Flowers, and Tulip trees can be a nice focal point in a fall garden.


With Halloween and Dios De Los Muertos just around the corner, why not use it as a little inspiration to decorate your garden? There’s plenty you can do to add some spooky and whimsy around those beautiful fall-blooming plants.


Here are a couple ideas:


Take some of those pumpkins you harvested and paint them black or white. Then use some bright colors and patterns to create sugar skull pumpkins.


Looking to carve a pumpkin? Here are a couple of tips. Instead of cutting a plug at the top of the pumpkin, why not try the bottom? Once you carve out a bottom plug, a lot of the seeds and “guts” pulls out with it. Also, if you plan to make an intricate design, make sure you trace it out first. Pumpkins aren’t very forgiving for carvers that make mistakes.  


Have some old wood lying around? Why not make a few homemade “keep out” or “no trespassing” signs. Or even a few ancient-looking headstones. And your old gardening clothes you probably wore out during the busy growing season can be stuffed to make a menacing scarecrow.


Whatever you choose to do this October with your garden, take time to enjoy it. This time of year is beautiful and a favorite to many gardeners and San Diego residents. 

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