Grow your own pumpkins for Halloween

Whether you have grown your own or are buying, October is the month for all things pumpkin.

Carving a pumpkin for Halloween and creating doorstep displays has become more and more popular, but many people just bin the remains. Did you know you can use every bit of the pumpkin with no waste at all?

To discover some great ideas for making use of every bit of your pumpkin, read on.

Pumpkin treats

Pumpkin seeds can be roasted as a delicious autumnal snack, packed with vitamins and minerals. Take a look at the Good Food classic roasted pumpkin seeds recipe here.

The flesh can be used to make a pumpkin puree, used to bake the American classic pumpkin pie, or to make various soups. If you like Starbucks pumpkin spiced lattes, why not have a go at making your own this October?

You may assume that the rind of the pumpkin cannot be used, but it can actually be pickled for a tasty autumnal snack, or if that doesn’t take your fancy you can simply leave it out for the wildlife or toss it onto the compost heap ready for a rich compost next year.

How to save pumpkin seeds

How to save pumpkin seedsIf you’re not a lover of pumpkin flavours, why not prep and save them, ready for sowing in springtime to grow your own showstopper. If you’re wondering how to save pumpkin seeds, don’t worry – it’s easy. Simply scoop out the pulp and seeds from inside the pumpkin, place them into a colander, then hold the colander under running water. Start picking out the seeds and rinsing them under the water, before spacing them out on a dry paper towel. Place in a cool, dry place to allow the seeds to dry, stirring and turning them over every few days at first to allow them to dry on each side. Once the seeds are thoroughly dry, store them in an envelope in a cool, dry place or in the fridge.

Grow your own pumpkin

Grow your own pumpkinWhy not have a friendly competition with your friends and family, or fellow allotment gardeners, to see who can grow the biggest pumpkin? Growing yours in a polytunnel is sure to give you a head start.

Pumpkins can take up a lot of space when they are growing, however you can train pumpkins to grow up a vertical frame or trellis. Be sure to prep the planting area a few weeks before sowing by digging a hole measuring approx the width and depth of a spade and backfill the hole with a mixture of garden compost and soil, and spread with a general fertiliser. Pumpkins do need a lot of water and a feed every 10-14 days so it’s a good idea to make a shallow dip all around the plant to help.

The beauty of growing pumpkins in a polytunnel is that pollen is early and stays dry enough to use to set the first fruit. Once the fruits are set, be sure to cut off a few leaves and train stems to run away from other plants – they can even loop around themselves if needed.

As the fruits start to grow, lift them off the ground with a plank of wood or brick to stop them rotting on the damp soil. If you have trained them to grow up a trellis you may need something underneath to support them as they can get very heavy.

Once harvested pumpkins will keep for months in a cool frost-free shed.

Pumpkin decorating ideas

Grow your own pumpkin for HalloweenDecorating a pumpkin can be as creative as you like – it doesn’t have to just be carved. If you want your Halloween display to last longer, try painting or sticking decals to the pumpkin – this is a much safer way for the younger ones to get involved too. If you do decide to carve a pumpkin, there are some fantastic printable stencils online – you can opt for a traditional pumpkin face or a more extravagant design.

Planning a Halloween party

If you’re planning a Halloween party this October, there are lots of ways to use a pumpkin for games or food displays.

A few Halloween pumpkin party game ideas are:

Musical pumpkin pass – think pass the parcel but fill the pumpkin for little hands to dive into when the music stops. Will yours be a trick or a treat?

Pumpkin toss – hollow out some pumpkins and get into teams. Get a jarful of pennies or even some spooky spider toys and see which team can throw the most into the pumpkin within a set time.

Or how about getting out into the garden for a game of pumpkin bowling with some spooky decorated empty cans or bottles used for skittles and a pumpkin (stem removed) as a bowl.

If you have a slightly softer pumpkin why not try a pumpkin piƱata – simply fill with Halloween goodies and stand well back as players take turns to try and smash it down with a witch’s broomstick.

Halloween pumpkin party food 

Halloween pumpkin ideasWhy not have a go at creating an impressive food table for your Halloween party using a hollowed out pumpkin as a decorative bowl filled with a number of goodies like fondue, sweet treats or even a spooky Halloween cocktail. Or take a step back in time and recreate the classic 80’s cheese hedgehog by making fake ‘hair’ for your pumpkin with fruit kebabs or traditional cheese, pickled onions, and cocktail sausages.  

Halloween polytunnel party

Halloween can be great fun for kids and adults alike. Your polytunnel can make a great location for a Halloween party this October. You could dress-up your polytunnel with some cobwebs and other spooky decorations or turn it into a “haunted polytunnel” for the kids to explore. We have even sold polytunnels which have been used as “alien quarantine tents”, like at the end of the film E.T, and as a mad scientist’s lab. 

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