The crisp fall air excites everyone to go out to a pumpkin patch and pick the best one for you and your family. We bring them home, set them up for display or carving and within days they are being chewed on by squirrels or other pests or a nicely carved face now looks like a melting zombie. Here are some tips for preserving and pest control.
Once carved, dip the pumpkin into a large bucket with bleach and water mix (1 tsp-bleach to 1 gal-water). The bleach will kill bacteria and help the pumpkin stay fresh longer. Remove pumpkin from bleach water and drain upside down until completely dry. Mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar, 1 tsp of lemon juice to 1 quart of water. Brush this mixture all over your pumpkin and it will help it look good for weeks.
Weather conditions will also deteriorate your pumpkins quickly. Extreme hot/sunny weather can make them rot quicker, so a shady cooler outdoor space is best. A hard frost or freeze will ruin a pumpkin immediately. If a frost or freeze is predicted, move your pumpkins inside or a protective garage.
Squirrels and rabbits are the biggest nuisance in an urban area for ruining a pumpkin. Try these tips to keep the critters away.
You can sprinkle red pepper flakes inside a carved pumpkin, rub bottled hot sauce on the outside, or create your own repellent spray. Simply add some crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne to a spray bottle full of water, add a few drops of dish detergent to make it sticky, and spray all over the pumpkin.
Petroleum Jelly has also been effective rubbing all over the outside of the pumpkin creating an undesirable stickiness to the pumpkin.
If rabbits or deer are the pests you have, Creek Side also sells bottled repellent from I Must Garden. Natural ingredients and is very effective. It is important to note that you should be tenacious with the application.