With the countdown in full swing for Halloween, Garsons of Esher in Surrey is celebrating a bumper pumpkin season.
More than six acres of its Pick Your Own fields have been dedicated to this Halloween hero and they will be ready for picking from the end of September, leaving plenty of time to hone pumpkin carving skills ready for October 31.
This year the family-run farm has grown more than 30,000 of these colourful gourds with the impressive orange Racer variety as the main crop.
However, for the first time it has trialled a new white variety nicknamed ‘Ghost’ – a giant of a pumpkin reaching in excess of 20kgs and the size of a large beach ball.
“We have only grown 500 of this white variety so they may live up to their nickname and disappear by the time we reach Halloween. However, we have grown three times more of the traditional orange pumpkins than on previous years so there will be plenty for all. It has been a fantastic growing season for many of our crops, but particularly pumpkins,” says Ben Thompson, director of Garsons.
The pumpkin fields are open seven days a week throughout October, weather permitting. Visitors can drive to the fields and then select their favourite specimen which has already been carefully cropped by Garsons staff. There will also be a huge array of sizes and colours available to buy from the Farm Shop.
Whole pumpkins will store for up to eight to 12 weeks if kept in a cool, dry and dark place, but not below 6oC degrees. When choosing the perfect specimen, ensure there is no damage to the skin and the handle is strong and in place.
Established in 1871, Garsons of Esher is a family-owned farm shop, garden centre and pick-your-own farm with a restaurant serving food grown on the farm and from other local producers.
- You can make your jack o'lantern last longer by brushing the pumpkin flesh with lemon juice.
- Swap a real candle for a battery-powered light to provide a safe alternative and this won’t burn the inside of the pumpkin, helping it to last longer. You can pick these up from the garden centre.
- Once you have scraped out the seeds, wash off any pulp and dry the seeds in a low oven for about 30 minutes. Use to feed wild birds in your garden or dust with salt and enjoy as a healthy adult snack.
- After Halloween, don’t just dump your tired jack o'lantern in the recycling bin – put it in a corner of the garden for wildlife such as squirrels and hedgehogs to enjoy.
- Pumpkins have high water content and rot down quickly making the perfect compost. If you have an area of poor soil in your garden, chop up the pumpkin and bury it in the soil to encourage worms which aerate and fertilise the earth.