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Got a craving to carve? Preserve your pumpkins for the spooky season

Get your gourds going in time for Halloween with these tips

POSTED: October 7, 2011 12:30 a.m.

In case you haven’t paid much attention to the displays outside most grocery stores and many other retail outlets, it’s pumpkin season. 

That mean’s it’s almost time to carve up those orange gourds, give them spooky faces and prepare for the arrival of trick-or-treaters and other guests later this month.

Here are some tips to keeping your jack-o’-lanterns smiling through the month.

Make it last

As with flowers and other produce, once you cut into a pumpkin, its expiration clock starts ticking. However, there are tricks to getting a few more days of enjoyment from your carved pumpkin.

“Once you scoop out the seeds and pulp, you can spray the inside of your pumpkin with silicone spray. That helps seal it off and helps it last longer,” said Kellie Bowen, co-owner of Full Bloom Nursery in Clermont. 

“You can buy an aerosol can of silicone at any hardware or home improvement store.”

Some pumpkin-carving enthusiasts recommend keeping your decorative gourd out of direct sunlight during the day to slow down the spoiling process. Others recommend placing it in the refrigerator when the carved pumpkin isn’t needed for display.

No cutting

What if carving jack-o’-lanterns isn’t your thing. Does that mean you’re left out of the pumpkin decorating loop? Nope, not even a little bit. 

These days, you’re only limited by your imagination. 

If you’re looking for a kid-friendly alternative to cutting into a pumpkin, try painting on spooky faces or other designs. If you’re looking for a more personal touch, try using letter stencils to a create monogrammed pumpkin.

You could also try using a circle-shaped sponge to create a polka-dot gourd. 

“Another way to decorate a pumpkin is to decoupage it,” Bowen said. “You can buy spray adhesive and literally glue any type of ornamental paper onto the pumpkin. You can use scrap booking paper or get really creative and use pages out of a magazine.”

Instead of focusing on your porch or front walkway, why not bring your pumpkin decorations indoors? For a simple centerpiece, instead of carving into a big pumpkin, try arranging a few small ones on a long platter. You could garnish it with a few clusters of berries or tiny pine cones to create a more rustic tablescape.

Better Homes and Gardens suggests using mini pumpkins placed atop overturned bowls or on cake plates to create a unique centerpiece. To give it extra flair, the magazine suggests covering the little gourds with metallic paint.

Face off

If staring at spooked-faces on pumpkins isn’t your thing, try cutting circles into your pumpkin and placing a candle inside to create a luminary. To engage the other senses, try using a cinnamon- or vanilla-scented candle.

“You can also hollow out the pumpkin, and use it as a planter,” Bowen said.

“You can put the plant directly in the pumpkin, but it would probably be less messy to use the plant in the original pot that it came in. Just sit the entire thing inside.”

If you’re going to create a pumpkin planter, be sure to cut a few holes in the bottom to allow for drainage. According to Bowen, it should last for a couple of weeks.



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