By Anna Cottrell published
Pumpkin season is upon us, and with it many a gardener's question: 'When is a pumpkin ripe to pick?' Not all pumpkins ripen at the same rate, and some may look too small to pick even though they're orange. Others may look big enough to pick but still look a little green in places. Which ones are the ripe ones?
1. Check the color of your pumpkin first
If you're wondering when is a pumpkin ripe to pick, the first thing to do is check your pumpkin's color. 'If your pumpkin is orange all the way around, it’s ripe and ready to harvest,' Evie says. If it's still got green patches over it, leave it for another couple of weeks. If your pumpkins still haven't ripened by the end of harvesting season in October, you may need to ripen them at home.
2. Give your pumpkin a good smack
This is probably the most fun method for testing when a pumpkin is ripe to pick. Evie recommends 'giving the vegetable a hard smack – if it sounds hollow, the pumpkin is ready to be picked.'
In fact, tactile methods are easily the most reliable for testing pumpkins. Evie's other top tip is to determine ripeness 'by using a fingernail and try to puncture the pumpkin’s outer shell – if it doesn’t dent or puncture, your vegetable is ready to go.' A ripe pumpkin is a pumpkin with hard skin.
3. Allow for variations in sizes
Finally, don't worry too much about sizing. As Evie explains, 'pumpkins vary in size due to their genetics.' As a rule of thumb, medium-sized pumpkins commonly used for Halloween 'can range from 10-20 pounds.' However, 'if the pumpkin seeds planted are from a small vegetable, it’s likely that your pumpkin will only grow to weigh around 4 pounds.'
If you're growing your pumpkins from seed, it's a very good idea to know what variety you're growing, so that you're not surprised by an overly small pumpkin. The smaller varieties will be better suited to small vegetable garden ideas, but less for Halloween carving.
Fancy learning how to grow butternut squash alongside your pumpkins? There are plenty of tips in our dedicated guide.
Anna is a keen urban gardener, with David Austin roses and Japanese acers among her favourite plants. She moved into the world of interiors from academic research in the field of literature and urban space a couple of years ago. She's always been interested in how people make houses into homes, and how our concepts of what's stylish change over time.
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