ITHACA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — It’s almost Halloween and that means it’s decorating time.
Although some people like to decorate with ghosts, spiders, and 12-foot monsters, one thing most people use to decorate their porch or stoop is pumpkins.
Chances are most people have bought their pumpkin, but if you haven’t, there’s still lots of pumpkins available at a number of farms in Central New York.
According to Steve Reiners, professor of horticulture at Cornell University, there are some tips you can follow to ensure your gourds last through Halloween.
“It’s pumpkin season! The good news is, despite a summer of extremes, New York growers have an excellent crop in 2023. When picking your pumpkin, choose pumpkins that are firm with no soft spots. The stem or ‘handle’ should be hard. Healthy pumpkins that are uncut can last through Thanksgiving,” said Reiners.
If you’re planning on cutting into your pumpkin and creating a unique jack-o-lantern, Reiners suggests to make sure you wait a few days before Halloween until cutting into your pumpkin.
“Once you cut them for a jack-o’-lantern, bacteria and fungi can start the rotting process. Once cut, they only last about 7 to 10 days. If you want them to be perfect for Halloween, don’t cut until a few days before.”
Reiners also recommends mixing a teaspoon of bleach to a quart of water in a spray bottle and spritzing the inside of the pumpkin and all cut surfaces daily to slow the rot a bit.
If you want a more natural way of keeping your pumpkin rot free, then you can try using peppermint dish soap instead of bleach and do the same, mixing with water in a spray bottle, and spray all surfaces daily.
Another recommendation is to use LED candles instead of real candles as real candles can expedite the rotting process and make it harder to preserve your pumpkin. Using real candles are also a fire hazard so it’s best to stay away from them if you can.