Tips on how to keep that jack-o’-lantern healthy
Fall fun is ripe for picking at area farms, so get your ghost on at local patches
Ready to start hunting for pumpkins, and want to take the kids some place fun? Head out to our local pumpkin patches where you’ll get an experience worth howling over. Memorable fall enjoyment is ripe for picking at area farms, and local growers are holding their harvest festivals complete with novelty pumpkins.
In addition to pumpkins, gourds — large and small — are perfect for fall décor. Backyard birders will love the birdhouse gourds, which make excellent houses for feathered friends. Let the gourd dry out in the garage over winter, drill a hole in it, and hang it next spring.
If you plan on getting out early to pick your pumpkin, choose one that lasts with these tips:
• Strong stems keep the pumpkin fresh, so look for those that are fully attached to the skin.
• Choose firm, not mushy pumpkins. Avoid those with cuts in the skin; they’ll rot quickly.
• Keep your pumpkin cool, not freezing or overly hot. Store away from direct sunlight, and bring it in if frost is predicted.
Once your pumpkin is picked and safely home, keep it fresh and ready for the big night with these tips:
• Wait to carve your pumpkin until one or two days before Halloween.
• Scrape out the walls to a thickness of one inch for easiest carving.
• Immediately after carving, smear petroleum jelly over the interior and cut surfaces to lock moisture in.
• Pumpkins wilt in three days; perk yours up by soaking it in water. Mix one teaspoon of bleach to one gallon of water to prevent mold from growing.
• Take home an unusual winter squash to cook up for soups or suppers. But plan on having a crowd over, because some of these squash can top 30 pounds or more.
Ready to shop?
Check out these local pumpkin patches:
Carol O’Meara CSU Cooperative Extension
• Red Wagon Farm, 7694 North 63rd St., Longmont, offers pick-your-own or easy-shop pumpkins, a straw bale maze as well as a chance to meet alpacas, llamas, goats and other animal residents of the farm; redwagonfarmboulder.com.
• 7th Generation Farm, 1536 Courtesy Rd., Louisville, offers hay rides, pumpkin picking and a corn maze. Check out its farm fresh meat, eggs and honey while visiting; 7thgenerationfarm.com or 720-841-3836.
• Rock Creek Farm, 2005 S. 112th St., Broomfield, has traditional jack-o’-lantern and pie-type pumpkins in one of the largest pick-your-own pumpkin patches in Colorado. For hours and days of operation, visit rockcreekfarm.com.
• Anderson Farms, 6728 WCR 3 1/4, Erie, features farm tours, corn mazes, zombie paintball hunt and handicapped accessible pick-your-own pumpkin fields; andersonfarms.com.
• Rocky Mountain Pumpkin Ranch, 9057 Ute Highway, Longmont, is an organic pumpkin ranch where there’s pleny of fun for goblins, young and old, including observing honeybees in their hive; rockymtnpumpkinranch.com.
• River Ranch Farms, 1220 Langston Ln., Loveland, offers pumpkin picking along the picturesque Big Thompson river. The ranch has thousands of pumpkins to browse through; riverranchfarms.com.
• Munson Farms at the corner of Valmont and 75th St., Boulder, is a place to go on a hayride or to find classic and unusual pumpkins of various varieties and colors, like white, slate blue or firehouse red; munsonfarms.com.
• Cottonwood Farm, 1535 N. 75th St., Boulder, specializes in fall fun for everyone with mazes, hay rides, pumpkins, gourds and more at this family-owned farm; cottonwoodfarms.com.
Of note: The Colorado Master Gardener program in Boulder County is taking applications for its spring class. If you are interested in helping others garden, the Colorado Master Gardener program may be a good fit. Classes are 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays beginning in late January and run through mid-April; Call 303-678-6238 to receive an application.