Tricks for Picking the Right Pumpkin

Pumpkin Mice

and care tips...

    Since seasonal decorating is temporary, it gives us the chance to move things around, try new things, and get creative. Pumpkins are the main attraction in fall and for Halloween decorating, in general. Whether you paint then, carve them, or leave them as is, these fall gourds can offer plenty of options for decorating your fall home.
    Here are a few tricks for picking the best pumpkins, caring for them and tips for creating a 'Mouse in the House' pumpkin.


Picking the Best Pumpkin

  1. Your choice! You’d be surprised at how many different types of pumpkins we have at the Pasquesi Pumpkin Patch. Search through their special characteristics and potential applications from classic orange for carving, all-white pumpkins that glow like ghosts after dark, to blue-gray pumpkins with deep ribs and orange flesh and red-orange Cinderella pumpkins that make great ‘stackers’. While most pumpkins are edible, the petite Pie pumpkins are really sweet. They weigh in at 2 – 3 pounds with smooth orange flesh. Perfect for pies and other pumpkin-y baked goods.
  2. Look for Green Stems: The stem can give you clues on the pumpkin’s freshness. Look for a firm stem and avoid those that appear brown or mushy. Try to avoid picking up your pumpkin by the stem.
  3. Choose a Hollow Pumpkin: Just like when you test a watermelon for ripeness, a hollow sounding pumpkin is the best.
    • To test, hold the pumpkin with one hand.
    • Place pumpkin next to your ear. Knock it on the side with your knuckles.
    • Listen for a deep hollow sound… the louder the sound, the better the pumpkin. 
    • Look for a firm Pumpkin: Press the flesh. If it springs right back or doesn’t give at all, this pumpkin is at its peak. Also, check for soft spots, especially at the bottom where it sat while growing. If the flesh feels spongy, avoid that pumpkin… it won’t last long!
    • Avoid blemishes or cuts: Try to choose a pumpkin without open cuts or scrapes as these wounds can cause entire pumpkin to rot much quicker. When you find a pumpkin without blemishes, you still might want to wash the pumpkin with a diluted bleach solution (one part bleach with 9 parts water).
    • Keep it cool: If you keep your pumpkins in a cool, dry place and avoid freezing temperatures, they will could last much longer. 

Making Carved Pumpkins Last Longer

  1. Avoid touching the pumpkin too much. The oils on your fingers speed up the rotting process. Handle with care and avoid pumpkins with bruises and unwanted cuts. Don't grip the stem too aggressively. A broken stem = a shorter lifespan for a pumpkin.
  2. Pick a good location. The best location is a dry, shaded spot such as a covered porch. Avoid direct sun because too much sun will speed up the decay, as will too much rain. Water that collects around the stem will encourage rot, too.
  3. Keep a spray bottle with a bleach mixture handy. Spritz the pumpkin on a daily basis to avoid rot.
  4. Before carving your pumpkin, make sure the inside is cleaned out and all guts are removed. BEFORE carving, allow the pumpkin cavity to dry out. This will keep mold from forming.
  5. Moisturize! Spray the pumpkin with a peppermint oil mixture (Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Liquid Soap and a few drops of peppermint essential oil will keep the rind properly moist. Peppermint oil has anti-fungal properties, plus it smells good too!
  6. Keep pests away! Naturally ants, fruit flies and squirrels are attracted to pumpkins, especially carved ones. For best results, keep pumpkins off the ground, on top of haybales or in containers.
  7. Avoid real candles. The flame will cause the interior to dry out and rot more quickly. The flameless candles won’t heat up as they flicker…perfect!

These tips should help you prolong the life of your pumpkins, especially those that you spent so much time on carving!


The ‘MOUSE IN THE HOUSE’ Pumpkin                                              

This pumpkin project is recommended for adults or older children. With younger kids, adult supervision is needed since a drill and knives are used.


  1. Medium gray-blue pumpkin. (Or, any color pumpkin will work)
  2. Plastic sheet to cover the working surface.
  3. Knife and spoon
  4. One drill with two or three different size drill bits
  5. 5-6 plastic decorative mice

How to:

  1. Wash pumpkin skin with part bleach mixture. (1 part bleach and 9 parts water) Dry.
  2. Cover working space with plastic or paper.
  3. Place pumpkin on its side and carefully cut a circle or square in the bottom of the pumpkin.* Cut a hole just large enough to remove pumpkin seeds and guts with a spoon, but small enough so you can’t see it when the pumpkin is right side up. Candle or flameless candles or votives will be placed there.
  4. Scoop out the pumpkin guts & seeds. Scrape until smooth inside and ALL guts are removed.
  5. Next, you will be drilling the holes in the pumpkin. Mark the pumpkin with magic marker dot where you want the holes to be drilled. You can but an ‘S’ for smallest holes; an ‘M’ for medium and ‘L’ for larger holes. Don’t worry, it will look good no matter how you place the holes… especially when your pumpkin is lit up it at night.
  6. Attach mice to pumpkin with hot glue. Vary the mice's positions inside the drilled holes, looking out from the holes, hiding around the pumpkin stem or whatever looks good.
  7. Add flameless candles. Wait until dark and... watch the flickering light highlight the mice as they scurry around the holes in the swiss cheese/pumpkin.

* When finished, it helps to place the pumpkin on a plate or ceramic tile to make it easier to carry and also you won’t damage the surface where you place it. Lift the pumpkin and place the flameless candle/candles on plate first, then place the pumpkin over the candle/candles.