Monday 21 October 2019

8 Top Tips for Pumpkin Picking

We've been going to pick our own pumpkins for the last four years and it's one of our favourite autumn activities to do, even before having Joshua. We have a wonderful pick-your-own farm that is really local to us and we head there regularly throughout the year for strawberries, blackberries and sweetcorn too. 

Pickwell Farm in Southampton can be found on Grange Road and with free parking and really reasonable prices, there's never been a better time to support our local farm and of course, pick your own. Pumpkin Patches are great if you're near one and there are a number that pops up this time of year but supporting a local farm is so much more worthwhile!

I've put together some of our top tips for making the most of pumpkin picking and with half term right around the corner now is the perfect time to go. 

1. Picking out the perfect pumpkin means looking out for a few things so they don't go to mush before Halloween. You want your pumpkin to be a deep orange colour, have a nice flat bottom that's not soft and don't forget to give it a little knock to make sure it's hollow. A smooth surface is also a winner for carving as it makes it much easier. 

2. Keep an eye on those soft spots as they can mean the pumpkin is already decaying and we want our pumpkins to last right?! Also, watch out for the stem. You want one that's hard and dark as the pumpkin will keep for longer and remember not to carry it by the stem as it'll break. 

3. If you're picking your pumpkins to carve for Halloween, have in mind what you want to carve before you go so you can find the perfect size! Also, a pumpkin that is heavy and firm is better for carving as denser pumpkins have thicker walls. You don't want one with thin walls as it'll collapse! 

4. Remembering a wheelbarrow for transporting your orange bounty is a must. We popped Joshua inside ours to trek down to the fields before filling it full of pumpkins. It meant we didn't have to worry about carrying our largest pumpkin back with us and Pickwell had plenty of them available too.

5. Dress appropriately! We've had the wettest October we've had in ages so holding out for a drier day didn't end up being an option for us this year so armed with wellies, walking boots and raincoats we headed off anyway with last-minute clear blue skies making an appearance. Pickwell Farm has done as much as it can to make it a little less muddy but it'll definitely be a wellie activity this year. We spied a few people in pristine white trainers and cute outfits for photos but let's just say they didn't look like that at the end! 

6. Don't forget your camera. Pumpkin picking has become the place to be for photos for Autumn and we always make sure we have a camera on us to get some gems to look back on. Children upon pumpkins or sitting in wheelbarrows are bloody cute but even as adults you can hold your own outdoor photo session. I always head to Pinterest for inspiration and I'm so happy with the photos we got this year. 

7. Don't carve too early as your pumpkin will spoil. You need to try and leave it until the very last minute to carve so they're perfect for Halloween. We always go pumpkin picking around the 18th of October then keep the pumpkins as decorations until a few days before when we attempt to create a masterpiece with our little orange friends. It's also a good idea to pick up some battery-operated flicker lights to use inside rather than tealights as they can cook the inside of the pumpkin and cause decay. Pumpkin carving kits and lights were available to buy at the farm. 

8. One thing I think we should all remember when pumpkin picking is not to waste anything. Only pick what you need and with anything left over make some autumn bakes with them. Pumpkin soup is the ideal way to warm up on a cold day and I've found some amazing pumpkin loaf recipes on Pinterest too. I can't wait to get baking with our squash and gourds this year. 

Pickwell Farm is open from 9am daily and they give regular updates on their Facebook page on the field conditions, dos and don'ts plus prices and closing times. You can find them at Grange Rd, Bursledon, Southampton SO31 8GD. 

Happy pumpkin picking! 

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