Sacramento Digs Gardening logo
Sacramento Digs Gardening Article
Your resource for Sacramento-area gardening news, tips and events

Articles Recipe Index Keyword Index Calendar Twitter Facebook Instagram About Us Contact Us

How to pick a perfect pumpkin

Patches now open at local nurseries; what to look for when pumpkin shopping

Just in time for Green Acres' annual Fall Festival, piles of pumpkins await shoppers at Green Acres Nursery & Supply.

Just in time for Green Acres' annual Fall Festival, piles of pumpkins await shoppers at Green Acres Nursery & Supply.

Photo courtesy of Green Acres Nursery & Supply

It’s pumpkin time, as evidenced by brightly colored piles outside supermarkets and inside nurseries.

But how do you choose the perfect pumpkin? It depends on what you’re shopping for.

Most pumpkins now rolling into stores are for Halloween carving or decorative purposes. Most carving pumpkins – bright orange with thin rinds and smooth skin – are hybrids of Connecticut field pumpkin varieties – the classic heirloom pumpkin. It tends to weigh 15 to 20 pounds, giving these future Jack-o-lanterns some size but not too much heft.

Pumpkins with thin rinds or walls tend to be easier to carve than thick-walled varieties. How can you tell before you crack it open? Pick it up; does that pumpkin seem heavy for its size? If so, it’s thick walled. Also, look at the stem. Thick-walled pumpkins tend to have hefty, thick stems.

Thin or thick, choose a pumpkin that feels solid to the touch all the way around. Avoid any with soft spots or sunken areas; they’ve already begun to decay.

Fresh pumpkins can last several weeks if left uncarved and kept out of direct sun. But a carved pumpkin’s lifespan is mere days (if not less than 24 hours); those cut surfaces tend to mold or rot quickly.

Interest in uncarved pumpkins as fall decorations had led to a plethora of pumpkin varieties. For example, Green Acres Nursery & Supply stocks at least a dozen different varieties: Carving, Fairytale, Lumina, Lil’ Pump-Ke-Mon, Cinderella, Jarrahdale, Big Max, Cronus, Iron Man, Knucklehead, One Too Many and Lunch Lady plus mini pumpkins, winged gourds and gooseneck gourds.

Need carving and decorating ideas – or want to show off your own skill? As part of its Fall Festival on Saturday, Sept. 30, Green Acres is hosting a pumpkin decorating contest at each of its seven locations. Decorate and/or carve the pumpkin in advance and enter it before 9:30 a.m. at the store’s contest table. Categories include Scariest, Silliest and Most Creative. Winners will be announced Monday, Oct. 2.

Green Acres’ Fall Festival also includes pumpkin-inspired games, crafts and workshops including how to turn a pumpkin into a succulents planter. Festival hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; admission and parking are free.

Green Acres is located in Sacramento, Auburn, Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Folsom, Rocklin and Roseville. For addresses, directions and more details on the Fall Festival:


0 comments have been posted.

Welcome, Green Acres!

Green Acres Fall ad

Newsletter Subscription

Sacramento Digs Gardening to your inbox.

Taste Fall! E-cookbook

Muffins and pumpkin

Find our fall recipes here!

Local News

Ad for California Local

Thanks to our sponsor!

Summer Strong ad for

Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Nov. 26:

Concentrate on helping your garden stay comfortable during these frosty nights – and clean up all those leaves!

* Irrigate frost-tender plants such as citrus in the late afternoon. That extra soil moisture increases temperatures around the plant a few degrees, just enough to prevent frost damage. The exception are succulents; too much water before frost can cause them to freeze.

* Cover sensitive plants before the sun goes down. Use cloth sheets or frost cloths, not plastic sheeting, to hold in warmth. Make sure to remove covers in the morning.

* Use fall leaves as mulch around shrubs and vegetables. Mulch acts as a blanket and keeps roots warmer.

* Stop dead-heading; let rose hips form on bushes to prompt dormancy.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location – and definitely indoors overnight. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they’ll bloom again next December.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Plant spring bulbs. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Daffodils can be planted without pre-chilling.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers and plant such spring bloomers as sweet peas, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Plant trees and shrubs. They’ll benefit from fall and winter rains while establishing their roots.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins now. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.

Taste Spring! E-cookbook


Find our spring recipes here!

Taste Summer! E-cookbook


Find our summer recipes here!