The pumpkins you need to be growing for next year’s Halloween

Pumpkin Winter Luxury. Picture by Real Seeds
Pumpkin Winter Luxury. Picture by Real Seeds

I’m not a huge fan of US-style pumpkins, which have killed off our traditional North East turnips when it comes to Halloween – which are a nightmare to carve.

Pumpkins are much easier, the flesh is actually edible, and they do look much better.

Pumpkin Goosebumps. Picture by Kings Seeds

Pumpkin Goosebumps. Picture by Kings Seeds

With that in mind, I’ve sought out the best carving pumpkins you can grow for next Halloween – not just orange but some ghostly white and warty varieties as well.

Jack o’ Lantern pumpkins (under 10lb or 4.5kg)

Becky F1: Medium-sized orange fruit, great for cooking or carving. 20 seeds, £2.79, www.suttons.co.uk
Winter Luxury Pumpkin: Super-early with a particularly good flavour, averaging about 2kg (4lb), orange with a slight netting. It will store until Christmas. 12 seed £ 2.41, www.realseeds.co.uk
Pudsey: 30p from each packet sold will benefit BBC Children in Need, Sweet tasting orange flesh, great for pies and carving. 100 seeds, £1.99, www.mr-fothergills.co.uk
Halloween: Perfect for lanterns or for pumpkin pie. They will store until Christmas in a cool, dry place. 8 seeds, £1.99, www.unwins.co.uk
Jack of all Trades: Each 4kg (9lb) orange fruit has a flat base and a deep, rounded shape. The sweet, orange flesh makes delicious pumpkin pie and soup. Height: 45cm (18”). Spread: 200cm (79”). £2.49, 10 seeds, www.thompson-morgan.com

White pumpkins

Snowman: Smooth, snow-white skin with yellow/orange flesh, fruit 4-6lb,  £1.95, www.chilternseeds.co.uk
White Casper: 15lb white pumpkins with less blueing than any other variety. The flesh is also very sweet and it is excellent for carving or painting. 10 seeds, 99p, www.premierseedsdirect.com

Warty pumpkins

Pumpkin Knuckle Head. Picture by Simply Seeds

Pumpkin Knuckle Head. Picture by Simply Seeds

Goosebumps: Unusual warty skin, producing fruits weighing 3-6kg. 6 seeds, £2, www.kingsseeds.com
Knuckle Head F1: Upright deep orange oval fruits with distinctive ‘warts’ and strong handles, approximately 5-7kg in size. Medium vine habit, so suitable for smaller growing areas. 10 seeds, £1.59, www.simplyseed.co.uk
For more pumpkin varieties to grow next year, including giants, visit https://www.mandycanudigit.com/2018/10/08/best-pumpkins-to-grow-for-halloween-lantern-carving/

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JOBS TO DO THIS WEEKEND

Prepare runner bean trenches for next spring, with veg waste and cardboard/newspapers.

Remove leaves from Gunnera and use them to cover the crown to protect from frost.

Cover parsley with cloches so that it crops through winter.

If you’ve got tender plants, bring them indoors before they get killed by the frost. Choose a light, frost-free place such as a greenhouse or cold frame. Keep them on the dry side during the winter, so they don’t put on much growth.

If you haven’t done so already, lift all your maincrop potatoes on a dry day and store in bags in a cool dark place. Don’t leave them any longer or the slugs will find them.

Leave bean plant roots in the soil – they add nitrogen and can be dug in later.

Cut back old wood on blackcurrants and gooseberries, and remove any wispy growth.

Once all the fruit has been picked, let the birds into fruit cages to pick off any pests.

Plant daffodil and crocus bulbs. Tulips can wait until next month.

Give the greenhouse/conservatory a thorough clean with detergent and disinfectant to remove any pests.