Obviously the longer you can leave winter squashes and pumpkins on the vine then the better and, certainly in the case of pumpkins, if you are able to wait until the fruit is at least starting to turn orange, then that’s the ideal.
However, the beauty of pumpkins and all the winter squash family is that you can pick them when the vines have died back or if a frost is forecast and bring them into a nice warm house/conservatory/greenhouse or, if the weather is bright and warmish, even leave them insitu’ or on your patio/decking during the day. Mind you, if you do chose to leave them outside during sunny days, I’d always recommend bringing them undercover at night, just in case Jack Frost puts in an appearance. Either way, they should continue to ripen and cure and, provided you have cut them early enough, even the greenest of pumpkins should turn orange in time for Halloween.
It has to be said at this point though, that winter squash that have to finish the ripening process off the vine and/or indoors, don’t, in my experience, generally taste as nice as those ripened and cured naturally on the vine.
For those of you unfamiliar with growing winter squash and pumpkins, curing is the term used to describe the hardening of the skin which then helps preserve the flesh and enables a grower to store them for 6 months or even longer in some case, in a dry store.
Okay, back to the issue of colour.
Obviously, with the two youngest Mudlets living at home, the soul purpose of growing pumpkins is to provide Lanterns for Halloween. We do eat the flesh produced by lantern carving but I would be lying if I told you that there was any other reason for growing these amazing squashes, although I adore the winter squash family as a whole anyway.
But I digress. It’s the colour that is important.
Halloween lanterns are orange! It’s as simple as that. Green lanterns don’t cut the mustard in our house. You ask the Mudlets (or Mud for that matter) and they will tell you, with all the assurance and certainty that comes with being under or equal to 4 foot nothing in your bare feet (that would be the Mudlets, not Mud) and an expert in all things Halloween: Halloween lanterns are orange.
Size isn’t even an issue! Nope it’s the colour: if it isn’t orange then it isn’t fit to be a Lantern.
So what do you do when you have two pumpkins …. and one of them is green! Dark green! Well you leave it on the plant for as long as you dare and then you bring it in, put it on a sunny windowsill or in the greenhouse/conservatory and watch the magic happen:
3 days after picking
13 days after picking
17 days after picking
The vine had died back completely and there was just the hint of orange at the ‘flower end’ of this pumpkin, when I picked it on 3rd October. Now, with just 11 days left until Halloween, there is a good chance that, at the rate this pumpkin is changing from green to orange, it will have reached the optimum colour in time for carving the lanterns.