Carol O'Meara, Colorado State University Extension

Carol O’Meara, Colorado State University Extension

BOULDER/LARIMER COUNTY – Ready to start hunting for pumpkins, and want to take the kids someplace 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 our feathered friends. Let the gourd dry out in the garage over winter, drill a hole in it, and hang it out 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 pumpkin patches near you this fall:

Rock Creek Farm, 2005 S. 112th St., Broomfield, for traditional jack-o’-lantern and pie type pumpkins in one of the largest u-pick pumpkin patches in Colorado.
For hours and days of operation, check their website at rockcreekfarm.com.

Anderson Farms, 6728 WCR 3 ¼, Erie, features farm tours, corn mazes, zombie paintball hunt, and handicapped accessible u-pick pumpkin fields (andersonfarms.com).

Rocky Mountain Pumpkin Ranch, 9057 Ute Highway, Longmont, rockymtnpumpkinranch.com.  Buzz into this organic pumpkin ranch to check out fun for goblins, young and old, including observing honeybees in their hive.

Osborn Farm, 1230 S. Boise Ave., Loveland, where pumpkins are available starting September 30. (osborn.farm/#october).

Munson Farms at the corner of Valmont and 75th St., Boulder, is a place to go on a hayride or find classic and unusual pumpkins of white, slate blue or firehouse red (munsonfarms.com).

Cottonwood Farm, 1535 N. 75th St., Boulder, specializes in fall fun for everyone. Mazes, hay rides, pumpkins, gourds and more at this family owned farm (cottonwoodfarms.com).

By Carol O’Meara, Colorado State University Extension. Colorado State University Extension, together with Boulder County Parks and Open Space, provides unbiased, research-based information about consumer and family issues, horticulture, natural resources, agriculture and 4-H youth development. For more information contact Extension at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Rd., Box B, Longmont, 303.678.6238, e-mail comeara@bouldercounty.org or visit ext.colostate.edu/boulder.


COLORADO MASTER GARDENER PROGRAM
The Colorado Master Gardener program in Boulder County is currently taking applications for the spring class. If you are interested in helping others garden, the Colorado Master Gardener program is for you! Classes run January through March and will be held every Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please contact the Colorado State University Extension Office in Boulder County at 303.678.6238 to receive an application.