Once your pumpkin is carved, you’ll want to make sure it stays preserved all the way through Halloween. The Alabama Cooperative Extension office offered these tips to make sure your Halloween decorations don’t start wilting before the holiday.

Selecting a healthy pumpkin is the first important step for preserving a carved pumpkin. In order to pick a healthy pumpkin, make sure there are no cracks or blemishes present. Also be sure to feel the pumpkin for soft spots.

Rot will be the quickest detrimental factor for a carved pumpkin. It is important to store pumpkins in a location with good air circulation and dry conditions to avoid rot as much as possible. Placing the pumpkin in a shaded area would be best for its longevity. Sunlight can start to breakdown pumpkins faster. If there is a heavy frost in the forecast, take care to cover them or bring them indoors.

To keep pumpkins fresh as long as possible, a soak in a bleach solution should do the trick.

Rinse pumpkins with soapy water before carving. Mix one tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water in a bucket large enough to submerge the pumpkin. Submerge pumpkins in the water, holding it under the water for two minutes. Make sure to wear gloves. After soaking, let the pumpkin air dry.

These pre-carving steps should help prevent microbial growth, which can set in fairly quickly and wilt the pumpkin. Another way to prevent this is to spray the carved pumpkin with the same bleach mixture every day. This will keep the carved flesh hydrated while keeping microbial growth from getting out of hand.

After carving, make sure to smear the inside and outside of the pumpkin with petroleum jelly to keep it hydrated as well. If pests present an issue to your pumpkin, mix the petroleum jelly with hairspray, acrylic finish spray and Tabasco sauce.

Here are a few additional tips to keep carved pumpkins from wilting:

Instead of using real candles to light pumpkins, try using battery-operated lights.

If the pumpkin does begin to wilt, you can salvage it by soaking it in cold water. Fully submerge the pumpkin in cold water overnight. Its skin should come out rehydrated and ready to shine again. Make sure it is thoroughly dried before displaying again.

As an addition to using petroleum jelly, spray the outside of the pumpkin with clear acrylic spray. This provides another layer of defense against bacteria and pests.

Lastly, while Halloween excitement builds as October continues, an important step to preserve the longevity of a carved pumpkin is not carve too early. Rot is yet another problem to avoid when carving a pumpkin. If you carve too early in the season, rot is more likely to set in over time. Carved pumpkins are more likely to deteriorate quicker than whole pumpkins. These hollowed out spaces allow places for pests to burrow in and feast on the pumpkin as well.

You know how to carve a pumpkin and keep it preserved, but where can you get a pumpkin for Halloween or fall decorations? Here is a list from this year’s edition of the Cullman County Food and Farm Guide of the farms in the county that offer pumpkins for the fall.

Burks Farms

William Burks

5000 AL Hwy 69 North

Cullman, AL 35058

256-385-2812

Facebook: Burks Farms

DeBoer Family Farm

Greg and Liz DeBoer

(256) 962-1642

Facebook: DeBoer Family Farm

Grandview Mountains Strawberry Farm

Brett Haynes

1394 County Rd 803

Cullman, AL 35057

256-531-5291

Facebook: Grandview Mountains Strawberry Farm

Henke Farms

Christine Henke

225 Henke Drive

Cullman, AL 35057

256-734-6374

Facebook: Henke Farms

J. Calvert Farms

Jeremy and Julie Calvert

30 County Road 260

Cullman, AL 35057

256-636-2752

Facebook: J. Calvert Farms

Kress Farms

Travis and Ashley Kress

3387 County Road 1527

Cullman, AL 35058

256-708-3064

Facebook: Kress Farms

Reeves Farm

Mike Reeves

334 Hwy 36 E

256-612-7588

Facebook: Reeves Peach Farm

Strength by Design

Krystal Herc

1109 Miller St SW

Cullman, AL 35055

256-347-9505

Facebook: Strength by Design

Sullivan Creek Ranch

Greg Anderson

151 County Rd 1047

Vinemont, AL 35179

256-595-4090

Anyone looking for a pumpkin can also visit one of the farmers markets located in Cullman County during October.

Berlin Farmers Market

50 Mt. Carmel Dr

Cullman, AL 35058

Monday & Wednesday 3-6 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Festhalle Market Platz

209 1st Ave Northeast

Cullman, AL 35056

Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Hanceville Farmers Market

200 Bangor Avenue

Hanceville, AL 35077

Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Tyler Hanes can be reached at 256-734-2131 ext. 238.

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