Carol O'Meara, Colorado State University Extension

Carol O’Meara, Colorado State University Extension

October is arriving, and it brings a chance for outdoor fun for the family.  At this time in fall, we make the annual pilgrimage to pumpkin patches.  Prowling in fields or rummaging through bins looking for the perfect Jack-O-Lantern, we’re all getting into the fall mood.

Enjoyment is ripe for picking at many area farms, and local growers are holding their harvest festivals complete with orange, grey, white, warty, and giant novelty pumpkins.  Hop on a hayride or test your skill at navigating a corn maze; you’ll find there’s fun for everyone at area patches.

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.

Ready to shop? Check out these pumpkin patches near you this fall:

• 7th Generation Farm, 1536 Courtesy Rd., Louisville, for hayrides, pumpkin picking or painting, corn and straw bale mazes.  Check out their farm fresh meat, eggs, and honey while you’re there (7thgenerationfarm.com/; 720-841-3836).

• 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 in Longmont, rockymtnpumpkinranch.com.  Buzz into this organic pumpkin ranch to check out fun for goblins, young and old, including observing honeybees in their hive.

• River Ranch Farms, 1220 Langston Ln., Loveland offers pumpkin picking along the picturesque Big Thompson river. Thousands of pumpkins to browse through (riverranchfarms.com/Home.html).

• Munson Farms at the corner of Valmont and 75th St., Boulder, is a place to go on to find classic and unusual pumpkins of white, slate blue, or firehouse red> The farm stand is loaded with delightful finds of corn, squash, and seasonal produce (munsonfarms.com).

• Cottonwood Farms, 10600 Isabelle Rd. Lafayette, specializes in fall fun for everyone.  Corn and straw mazes, hayrides, pumpkins, gourds and more at this family owned farm (cottonwoodfarms.com). Admission $5.

By Carol O’Meara. Carol is an Extension Agent – Horticulture Entomology at Colorado State University Extension Boulder County. For more information call 303.678.6377, e-mail comeara@bouldercounty.org or visit
ext.colostate.edu/boulder.