I would rather sit on a pumpkin
and have it all to myself,
than be crowded on a velvet cushion.
~Henry David Thoreau
Our heirloom pumpkin harvest is still a few weeks off. Though the vines are starting to die back a bit and the leaves beginning to show some signs of powder mildew from the cool, rainy days, the stems are still very green and new blossoms are still being produced… albeit few and far between. This is the perfect time, about three weeks before the harvest, for a fun fall pumpkin project.
We grow four varieties of pumpkins and winter squash each year and every bit of the sweet flesh is steamed, pureed and stored for using all winter (we love winter squash), but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a bit of fun with them first. Shallow etching of words and pictures into the shells of the squash before they are harvested results in a very cool design that slowly appears as the “wound” heals over. It’s easy, fun and a unique way to show off your harvest!
What You Need:
- Pumpkins large enough to etch, still attached to the vine and about three weeks shy of harvest time.
- A carving tool. We use the point of an old corkscrew. Anything with a fine, sharp point works well, including a small drill bit.
- A pen or marker to draw the design. (optional)
- A rag or sponge.
What You Do:
- Using the tip of your chosen tool, trace a shallow imprint of your design into the shell of the pumpkin.
- Retrace the design, pressing harder to etch the shell to a depth no more than 1/4″. The designs can be as simple or complex as you’d like.
- A vegetable peeler tip is perfect to remove any bits of colored shell left.
- When you are finished, soak a rag/sponge with chamomile tea and wipe the shell. (Chamomile has anti-bacterial properties which will help protect the etched areas.)
- Do not use bleach or soap…especially if you plan to eat the squash later.
That’s it! Watch the pumpkins carefully the first few days and continue to wipe them down until the etched areas have begun to heal over. It’s a lot of fun to see the design become more pronounced as time passes…and the look on friends’ faces when they see your ‘talking pumpkins’ is priceless! Happy gardening!