Pumpkin Postmortem

Though it was fun to grow over-sized pumpkins this year, they proved to be a challenge. Once they were in the house, they were far too heavy to move around. I had one on a table for a few weeks, before discovering moisture trapped below. Imagine my (unpleasant) surprise when the moisture created a breeding ground for mold on my bamboo table runner?  Mike helped me move the behemoth  to the hard floor where I kept my eye on it thereafter.

Carving super-sized pumpkins proved equally challenging. Only one of the four made it into a Jack-o-lantern. The walls were super thick, making fine work a challenge. Mike persevered and carved a lovely Cinderella carriage.  With that, he hung up his carving tools for the season.

pumpkin stems

Comparative thickness of pumpkin rinds

carved cinderella pumpkin

Cinderella would be proud

pumpkin post mortem collage

Grow, harvest, carve and display

Today we filled the wheelbarrow with rotted pumpkins, and then dumped them in to the growing yard-waste pile. The City of San Jose has a wonderful composting program.  They scoop up yard waste with a “lobster” claw and drop it into a special truck on trash day.  They sell the compost to city dwellers the following year. It made me smile seeing a pile of discarded Jacks at the curb.

discarded pumpkins

Jacks in a Heap

After that unceremonious farewell, we carted the remaining giants to the garden wall. They look lovely in the setting sun. Unless we have a substantial earthquake, I don’t anticipate moving them again!

Pumpkins to Jack O’Lanterns

Tomorrow’s the big day.  My husband, Mike, our resident pumpkin carver is taking the afternoon off to create magic. By noon he’ll be up to his elbows in pumpkin flesh, meticulously carving Jack O’Lanterns for Halloween. He has his work cut out for him.  We had an impressive harvest this year, ten pumpkins in all.  I love the way the house smells once he guts the pumpkins. It takes me back to the excitement of my childhood Halloween.

4 great pumpkins

Our 4 Great Pumpkins

Each year Mike carves a few of his past favorites, in addition to trying something new.  Last year he carved a few small pumpkins to look like computer emoticons. They were so unexpected. When my son was small, he asked his dad to carve Max, the bunny from Rosemary Wells Max and Ruby series.  He pulled it off beautifully.

Max and Ruby Pumpkin

Max and Ruby Pumpkin

One of his personal favorites is Deadly Diva.  She gets plenty of comments from passersby, so he’s carved her more than once.

Deadly Diva

Deadly Diva, a favorite since 2006

Halloween is a big deal on our suburban block.  We average 150 children at our door.  I’m on my feet for nearly three hours non-stop handing out candy.  My youngest son heads out with his dad and some friends for his own candy haul.   It’s a night of mystery and fun, followed by the realities of a regular school and work day.  Just like Cinderella, we all turned back into mortals by November 1st.

carved cat pumpkin

Cat Pumpkin

The After Pumpkin

While Mike is carving, I gather and rinse the seeds, then spread them out on wax paper to dry.  I store them in a labeled lunch bag for planting the following year.  We roasted pumpkin seeds in the oven as kids, but for some reason that tradition didn’t survive.  We have more fun planting the seeds the following year.

Now that my compost bins are under way, I’ll be able to turn the discarded rinds into rich compost for next year.  You’ve gotta love the cycle of life.

When witches go riding,
and black cats are seen,
the moon laughs and whispers,
‘tis near Halloween.

~The Quote Garden, Author Unknown

Halloween Countdown

Costume Accessory Pumpkin

Costume Accessories Pumpkin