Leigh is back just in time to help with the all important pumpkin carving!

Here are her top tips of how to get the most from your pumpkin patch:

6) Chuck out the worst one.

Cutting the worst fruits off of your pumpkin helps the plant focus on the best ones, meaning your carving will be the biggest and best it can be!
Wait to cut the main vines until the pumpkin fruit has developed enough to determine which fruit is the healthiest looking on the vine, then prune the vine to remove weaker pumpkins. Continue to cut the main vine as it grows to allow the plant to put all of its energy into the remaining fruit instead of vine growth. Be sure to bury the cut ends of the vine in the soil to protect from disease and retain moisture.

5) Grow them on a compost heap

Compost heaps are full of nutrients and general goodness for your pumpkins (and other veg!) Pumpkins are hungry eaters, so a compost heap is a cheap and low maintenance way to grow a healthy and big fruit to harvest!
IF you don’t have a compost heap, a compost growing bag that’s big enough will do just as well!

4) Feed them beer

Thanks to the magnesium, yeast and other nutrients, you can use beer as a fertilizer for pumpkins and other hungry plants. You can dump beer directly at the base of these plants to help them produce more fruit. Remember: insects LOVE beer. If you don’t want any unwelcome guests in the garden, be sure to dilute your beer slightly!

3) Harvest a few days before you carve

Cutting and harvesting your pumpkin a couple of days before you plan to carve them will make them soften up. It will be a lot easier to handle when carving and help the fruit ripen for cooking!

2) Keep the seeds!

Keep the seeds once you’ve finished carving. You can plant more, or dry them out for crafts and jewellery making with the children!

1) Once Halloween is over, chop it up

Chop up your fruity artwork for the local wildlife. Birds love pumpkin, so you can throw your chopped up pieces into the garden – or if you live in a more rural setting, local wildlife sanctuaries or even pigs gobbling them up!

Bonus: Wartime Pumpkin Soup Recipe

  • 2lbs pumpkin

  • 1 onion

  • 1 oz margarine

  • salt and pepper

  • milk

  • 1 litre of vegetable stock

Method to make around 8 servings

  • Cut open pumpkin and scoop out seeds and stringy insides.

  • Slice and chop into medium/large chunks.

  • Place on baking tray and dot butter or marg over the top (if you had garlic in your cupboard you can add 1 or 2 whole cloves to roast on tray too).

  • Roast for 45 minutes or so, turning over once or twice (oven moderate/hot about 22 degrees Celsius).

  • Meanwhile chop onion, place 1 oz margarine into large saucepan and cook onions gently until soft.

  • When pumpkin has roasted remove skin and place pumpkin pieces into saucepan (and cloves of garlic if available).

  • Add vegetable stock.

  • Bring to a simmer and continue cooking for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

  • Place all the contents of saucepan into a liquidizer (or rub through a sieve like they did in the old days!) and pulse until a thick puree is achieved.

  • Put puree back into saucepan, add lots of salt and pepper to taste and reheat adding milk to achieve desired consistency.

(If you are wanting to store soup then put it into containers straight from the liquidizer. Just add seasoning and milk when you come to use it)