Preserving Carved Pumpkins: Making Pumpkin Planters Last Longer
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By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
As our harvests come to pass and the weather begins to cool, it’s time to turn our attention to other tasks. A bumper crop of pumpkins begins to take shape as pie filling, while the outside makes perfect planters. The trick is making pumpkin planters last so you can keep the plants inside growing happily. There are a few tips and tricks to ensure a long-lasting pumpkin planter.
Preserving Carved Pumpkins
By nature, an organic container will eventually break down. Keeping pumpkins from rotting after you have gone to all the work to make them into planters is a tricky proposition. Many crafters are simply happy to have them for a month and then plant the whole thing in the ground when the container begins to discolor and get soft.
If you want yours to last longer though, location and a little care can extend the life of your container.
How you prepare your planter goes a long way to its longevity. Before you cut into it, wash the pumpkin carefully with a 10 percent solution of water and bleach. Let it air dry well before making your cuts.
Make sure you pick a fresh one as well, right out of the garden if possible. After you have removed the flesh and seeds, let the interior of the pumpkin dry out for a day before planting inside. Less moisture inside will help prevent immediate rotting. Then make sure you drill a couple of holes in the bottom for excess moisture to drain.
Making a Long-Lasting Pumpkin Planter
Making pumpkin planters last longer relies upon the type of set up inside. Pour a layer of pebbles or little rocks to cover the bottom of the planter. Use a good potting soil or sterilize your soil by baking it for 20 minutes and letting it cool. Certain plants, such as air plants, can be installed in sphagnum moss which will prevent rotting. Others need good soil.
A good tip to prevent excess moisture and help you reassemble the project if the container does rot is to leave your plants in their nursery pots. Cover up the pot edges with moss. If you have to remove them from a planter that is rotting, transferring them will be quick and easy.
Eventually, the container will go. That’s just science. However, to keep pumpkins from rotting too quickly, spray them daily with a low bleach solution. You can also use peppermint oil or an organic peppermint soap spray. Rub the exposed cut areas with petroleum jelly. Keep insects away from the planter. Their activities will speed up the decay process.
The most important tip of all is placement. A planter indoors will receive heat, which can speed up decay. Planters outside should be under cover to avoid excess moisture. No matter what you do, the pumpkin will eventually become compost. If you want to avoid that entirely, purchase a “funkin” that will last indefinitely.
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9 Long-Lasting Vegetables That Will Stay Fresh For MONTHS After Harvest
Are you planning your spring and summer garden? This year, plan to make room for vegetables that will remain fresh for months after harvesting.
By making some simple choices, you can increase the amount of food you can store and decrease the amount of food you throw away because of spoilage. For example, spinach can wilt within days, but cabbage can stay fresh for months.
Here are some of the best vegetables you can plant for long-term storage as well as a few tips for keeping them at their best.
1. Beets – When stored in the fridge, beets can stay fresh for two to four months. Be sure to trim off the top greens before storage for best results.
2. Cabbage – Many lettuces do not last long after harvest, but cabbage can last up to two months in your refrigerator. Wrap it in plastic for best results.
3. Carrots – If you keep your carrots dry, then they will keep fresh in your refrigerator’s vegetable crisper for three to four weeks (or more). Avoid storing them in a plastic bag, since moisture can be retained in the bag, accelerating rotting.
4. Celery — Did you know you could keep celery fresh for two weeks in the refrigerator if you wrap it tightly in aluminum foil?
On the other hand, celeriac, the root of celery plants, likes moisture. You can store it wrapped in plastic on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. Try placing your root in a dish of water on your kitchen windowsill, and it will regrow new celery stalks.
5. Garlic — Garlic bulbs will last for three to five months when stored in a cool, ventilated area. You also can store garlic in the fridge for months. Place it in a paper bag for best results. Keep in mind that refrigerated garlic will sprout within a few days of being brought to room temperature, so take out only what you need.
6. Onions – Onions are great for long-term storage. If you place them in a dry area that stays between 30 and 50 degrees, they can keep fresh for up to 12 months.
If you do not have a spot like that or if you need them in a handier location, you can store onions in a dark cabinet in a mesh bag for about a month.
7. Potatoes – If you have a basement or cellar that stays cool, consider storing your potatoes there. Potatoes will stay fresh for several months in a low-light area that keeps a temperature of about 40 degrees.
Keep your potatoes away from onions and applies otherwise, your potatoes will ripen too fast and rot. Also, don’t store potatoes in the refrigerator. Refrigeration can change the color and taste of potatoes.
Sweet potatoes also prefer a cool, dark area. They will keep for about a month if stored in a loose bag.
8. Rutabaga –Rutabagas can stay fresh for up to a month in your refrigerator. Just as you do with celeriac, store them wrapped in plastic on a low shelf in your fridge.
9. Squash –– Pumpkins, butternut squash and other squash varieties, including pumpkin, will last between two and six months when stored in a dark, dry environment. A temperature in the low to mid-50s is ideal, and make sure there is some room between the vegetables for ventilation when they are stored.
In addition to planting more long-lasting veggies, it is a good idea to keep longevity in mind when you shop for groceries. According to research from the Natural Resources Defense Council, just 48 percent of the produce produced in the U.S. is actually eaten. The rest heads to the trash, where it ends up in landfills or compost piles. That food waste calculates to $2,275 each year for a family of four.
Here are some general basics to keep in mind for long-term storage:
- Dark, dry and well-ventilated areas work best.
- Storage bins should be sturdy and easy to wash and to dry.
- Wire bins can bruise fruits and veggies.
- Check on produce frequently so you can notice ripening or rotting right away.
- Avoid plastic bags for non-refrigerated food as they can retain moisture and accelerate rotting.
What vegetables would you add to this list? What are your best storage tips? Share your ideas in the section below:
Cooked or Canned Pumpkin
Once you've turned your pumpkin into baked slices or puree for pie-making, you can safely keep it in your refrigerator for up to a week. It should be packaged in airtight containers or jars, to prevent contamination by mold or bacteria and to limit the likelihood of absorbing flavors from other foods. To preserve cooked pumpkin for longer, package it in airtight bags or containers and freeze it for six to eight months. After that time it will still be edible, though its flavor will deteriorate. Vacuum packaging, which removes all the air from the bags, will give the longest storage life.
How to Keep Carved Pumpkins From Rotting
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
When asking yourself how to keep a pumpkin from rotting after carving, one of the most important steps to make sure you don’t end up with pumpkin mold before it’s even Halloween is picking the right one from the get-go. Here’s how to pick a good pumpkin that won’t rot right away:
1. Look at the pumpkin’s stem. If a pumpkin’s stem is less than 1 to 2 inches long, the pumpkin will decay quicker. You also want a pumpkin stem that’s thicker and greener, which means the pumpkin is healthier and better for carving. Pro tip: Don’t lift pumpkins by the stem — it can cause damage and make them age faster!
2. Check the pumpkin’s skin for blemishes. Some dents and boils are just unique shapes that happen while the pumpkin is growing, but if the skin is actually punctured, gouged, or dinged, the pumpkin is more likely to attract pests and rot faster.
3. Feel the pumpkin for soft spots. Just like other gourds and produce, a soft area on a pumpkin means it’s already started to rot. You want a pumpkin that is uniformly firm when you press on it. If a pumpkin feels heavy and loose inside, skip it — the insides might already be rotten.
4. Buy your pumpkin from a local patch. It’s common sense: Produce purchased locally is fresher because it takes less time and distance to get to you. The closer the pumpkin is grown to you, the less bruising and damage it suffers after being picked. Not sure where to find your local pumpkin patch? Local Harvest has a full list of pumpkin growers and U-pick farms near you!
7 Tips for Making Carved Pumpkins Last Longer
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Don’t you just love carving pumpkins? It is so fun to cut fancy or scary faces into them, pop in a candle, and then set them on the porch to light up the night! Carving pumpkins is a favorite past time of many, but the fun all seems to end once the pumpkin starts rotting and needs to be tossed in the trash. How sad! Well pumpkin rot is unavoidable, but there are tips you can try following to extend the life of your pumpkin. If you have ever wanted to know some ways to make your pumpkins last, take a look below at 7 helpful tips and tricks. By following these tips you will be able to add a little life to your pumpkins, giving you more bang for your buck and allowing you to light up the night a little longer!
7 Tips for Making Pumpkins Last:
1. Timing is everything.
For warmer climates, wait until about a week before Halloween before you carve. If you live in a colder climate, you can carve about two weeks in advance. Timing is everything if you want your pumpkins to still look great on Halloween day!
2. Reuse silica packets.
Did you know that you can reuse those silica packets that you find in new shoes? Save them and place them in your pumpkin after carving it as they have preserving properties. You don’t need to tear the pack open, just place it inside whole. Remove before lighting your pumpkin.
3. Look for long stems.
The longer the stem is on a pumpkin, the longer the pumpkin will last. The stem contains a great deal of nutrients that it is continuing to feed the pumpkin, so the healthier the stem, the healthier the pumpkin. Avoid pumpkins where the stem has been broken off or severely cracked.
4. Keep your pumpkins cool.
Keep pumpkins in a shady area that is out of the sun. Heat will wear the pumpkin down and promote decay. Instead, keep your pumpkins in a cool spot in your yard. If temps become really warm, take your pumpkins inside or even place in a refrigerator for a few hours.
5. Apply some Vaseline.
After carving your pumpkin, apply some Vaseline to the fresh pumpkin that is now exposed to the elements. It will create a protective barrier, keeping it from rotting quickly. Apply it thick! It is clear so no worries, no one will see it.
6. Give a spritz of bug spray.
If you live in an area where pests and critters will want to dine on your pumpkin, give it a spritz of bug spray. You can apply a light spray to protect it just as you would your own skin. Reapply after a heavy rain for best results.
7. Use a Homemade Pumpkin Preserving Wash.
Wash your pumpkins with a mixture of bleach and water prior to cutting. This will kill bacteria that could otherwise cause the pumpkin to rot and mold prematurely. Wear gloves when doing his task to protect your hands. Rinse the pumpkin well after washing.
How easy are these tips? Not only are they easy, but they are all inexpensive too! Give these simple tips a try and see how simple it is to make your pumpkins really last this Halloween season. But just be warned, you will have the best looking pumpkins on the block!
Do you want your pumpkin to last even longer, then use one of these no-carve pumpkin decorating ideas.
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I have a "Long Island Cheese" Pumpkin that was given to me about a week ago. Will it keep for a few weeks until I have a chance to make a pie with it? or will it be no good by next month?
Yes it is in the class of winter squash which all last for many months after harvesting. I have had cheese pumpkins last over a year as well. It will CERTAINLY last a few weeks. If it was ripe when picked (a deep tan color) and has no nicks, scrapes or bruises it will last a good many months.
After the 2010 Halloween I found 5 big pumkins in a garbage pick-up pile, not even touched with a knife. I still have one and it has no bad spots or anything. I've used the others for soup n pies. This is 3-11-2011. Not all will last this long though.
I have a beautiful pumpkin still rich in color and solid sitting on my hardwood floor at the foot of my stairway in my townhouse. During the third week of October 2010, I accompanied my seven year old niece on a school field trip to a pumpkin patch farm in Moorpark,California. I chose my pumkin which is about six pounds in weight, and the children were each allowed to pick theirs from a group of smaller pumpkins.
I have learned from reading your entries that if kept in a cool spot, they last longer. I guess that's why my pretty pumkin is still thriving. I'm happy to report that I came home with my pumpkin on October 20, so day after tomorrow it will be with me for 6 months!
I guess this week I will make my first pumkin pie!!
I bought some seeds for an indoor container vegetable garden seeds were on sale at a new Menards that had just opened up so I went a little bit crazy and bought way more than I would possibly need, unless I started an outdoor garden as well.
Just for funsies, I planted a "Early Sweet Sugar Pie" pumpkin seed by Burpee. The thing sprouted REALLY fast and is HUGE compared to everything else I planted!
Since I just found out our last frost date is around April 20-30th (the snow today in lower Michigan is a testament to that fact!) I was contemplating making one 4 by 4 foot planter (or smaller) for outside growing. My question is, the seed packet says about 90 days to harvest. I'm also wondering how long the pumpkins would last -- if I am able to grow them, of course.
The thought of having my very own, home-grown pumpkins for Halloween is a fabulous one! Does anyone know how long that variety of pumpkin would last for? If not, if I sowed another seed/plant in July, would it grow OK for my zone (NW Indiana, zone 5-6 from what I've read) and produce pumpkins to be had for display/carving/pumpkin pies for Halloween?