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Connecticut Garden Journal: Tips for making your jack o’ lanterns last

jack o' lantern
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Halloween is coming up fast and one of the traditions around this holiday is pumpkin carving. It's fun to take the kids or grandkids out to a local pumpkin patch, select a few prized fruits and bring them home for carving. You certainly can decorate the pumpkins in other ways such as painting or “dressing them up”. But carving is the way to go for many families and I have some tips for making your carved creation last longer into fall.

When selecting a pumpkin from a field or farm stand, look for one with the stem still attached and no obvious nicks or cuts. Make sure at least one side is smooth and even for good carving. Wipe the skin of the pumpkin with a 10 percent bleach solution to kill any fungus and bacteria.

The usual way to carve a pumpkin is to cut a hole in the top to clean out the insides. Instead, I suggest you cut a hole in the back of the pumpkin. This will help maintain the structure of the fruit so it's less likely to collapse before the big night. Remove the guts and save the seeds for roasting. Then carve your masterpiece making the scariest face possible. Because you don't have a hole in the top for the smoke to rise through, use battery powered tea lights to illuminate the face.

The final trick is to take Vaseline or beeswax and rub it on all the cut surfaces. This will help slow the desiccation of the fruit and allow it to last longer into fall.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.