Halloween is just around the corner.
This big, orange fruit (yes, folks, pumpkin is not a vegetable) is what you’ll use to create the scary jack-o’-lantern. Apart from making Halloween pumpkin décor, you could use this plant to whip up delicious treats for you and your family.
What is the Meaning of Pumpkin on Halloween?
The carved Halloween pumpkin commemorates the memory of lost souls. People would hollow out the fruit and cut it to create a grimacing face. They then place a small candle inside the pumpkin to make it glow.
The Story of the Jack-o’-Lantern
Early Irish immigrants to the United States brought the tradition of creating a creepy jack-o’-lantern during Halloween.
Jack, according to Irish folklore, was a blacksmith who had tricked the devil on many occasions. When Jack passed on, he was unable to enter both hell and heaven. When the devil dismissed him, he gave Jack a burning ember. Jack then hollowed out a turnip, which allowed him to carry the ember and provide him the light he needs.
The Irish remember this folklore every year by carving creepy faces on turnips and putting a burning piece of coal inside the vegetable. When the Irish immigrated to the United States, however, they found out that pumpkins were more widely available. The candles also replaced the burning coals, giving the Halloween pumpkin a more frightening vibe.
Today, people don’t use traditional candles when decorating their Halloween pumpkin. They instead opt for a flashlight or a battery-operated candle.
How to Grow Pumpkins for Halloween
Note: The Halloween pumpkin takes time to grow. If you’re thinking about growing this fruit in October, you’ll want to rethink that decision, as the ideal time to plant and grow pumpkins is from late May to early July.
Also, pumpkins take 90 to 120 days to mature. Don’t worry, though. You can just buy a Halloween pumpkin at a pumpkin patch, and then set a reminder to purchase pumpkin seeds for planting in May.
If you’re planning to grow Halloween pumpkins in the late spring, buy seeds that are ready for planting.
Choosing a Planting Site
Before you plant the seeds, though, remember that you’ll need plenty of room in your backyard. Due to the fruit’s large vines, you’ll need to plant these seeds five feet apart. If you’re growing smaller varieties of the Halloween pumpkin, space the seeds three feet apart.
The pH of your soil should be between 6 and 6.8. Also, check if the area is clear of weeds and pests. Consider using weed block a couple of weeks ahead of planting to allow the weeds to die naturally.
When you’re sowing the pumpkin seeds in the soil, plant them directly into the ground approximately an inch deep.
Watering your Halloween pumpkin diligently is crucial, as the vine can become vulnerable to disease. Doing this task early in the morning is key, especially during summertime, as the hot weather can make the plants extra dry. Using a soaker hose can get the job done.
On top of watering, you can keep your Halloween pumpkins hydrated by adding mulch around the perimeter.
Keeping pests away is important to grow a healthy and beautiful Halloween pumpkin. Use appropriate pest control products to keep cucumber beetles and squash bugs from damaging your pumpkins.
How Do You Make a Halloween Pumpkin?
When choosing a pumpkin for Halloween decorations, pick one that’s fresh, has no bruises and with a sturdy stem. Also, check if the fruit has a flat bottom. This way, it won’t roll while you carve.
The next step is to cut the fruit from the bottom. Cutting the Halloween pumpkin lid from the bottom helps prevent the sides from caving in.
If you insist on carving from the top, do so at an angle using a boning knife. This way, the lid won’t fall inside the pumpkin when you place it back on top like it would with a traditional up-and-down cut.
Next comes scooping out all the pulp. Use an ice cream scoop to hollow out the pumpkin. Set aside the scooped pulp and seeds, as you can use the leftovers for other purposes.
Before you carve your jack-o’-lantern face, sketch out your design on a piece of paper. You can then use this paper as a pattern. Alternatively, you could purchase a pumpkin carving kit.
When you’re ready to carve your Halloween pumpkin, hold the fruit on your lap. This lets you create features easily when the face is looking up at you.
Begin by making rough and simple cuts using a serrated kitchen knife. Avoid cutting on a slant and instead opt for clean up-and-down slices.
Lastly, place a battery-operated candle or a flashlight inside your Halloween pumpkin to make it glow.
How to Use Leftover Halloween Pumpkin
If you’ve got leftover Halloween pumpkin seeds, you could roast them to make a flavored snack. You could also sprinkle them over a salad.
As for leftover pumpkin flesh, you could whip up a classic pumpkin pie. You’ll be steaming and pureeing the flesh to create the pie filling.
As for the skin, you could roast it and eat it as a side to roast chicken. You could also mash the skin, cook it and use the mashed pumpkin as an alternative to mashed potatoes.
Halloween pumpkins aren’t just great for decorating your home. You can also use them to make fall-inspired meals for guests and families.