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When to pick those pumpkins as nights get colder in Kamloops, Okanagan

A pumpkin patch in a garden in Kamloops.
A pumpkin patch in a garden in Kamloops.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Joleen Giles

Pumpkins are reaching maturity and turning orange in many backyards in Kamloops and the Okanagan as Halloween approaches but with reports of frosty nights coming, some residents are wondering if they should pull their pumpkins off the vine early.

Joleen Giles of Kamloops has picked her pumpkins and is storing them in a cool, dry place until her kids carve them for Halloween. This is the first successful patch of pumpkins she has grown.

“Most of them are still green,” she said. “I want to know if they will continue ripening off the vine and if the frost is going to ruin them.”

READ MORE: Risk of frost this week in Kamloops, Okanagan

The pumpkins are important to her and she has made a big effort to grow them this year.

“We tried two years ago with no success,” she said. “This year I asked the opinion of the Kamloops gardening group. There was a lack of bees this year, so with advice from the group we did hand pollination and it worked.”

Giles said hand pollinating requires taking the male flower and breaking off all the flower pieces except the middle part with the pollen on it. That part is rubbed on the female flower before it closes.

“You only have about four to six hours while they're open or you may have missed your chance,” she said.

READ MORE: Gardeners from Kamloops, Okanagan offer early season tips

She ended up with eight decent sized pumpkins and a handful of smaller ones.

“We have five kids so we will make sure everyone gets one each to carve and are not sure what we will do with the rest,” she said. “We had one that escaped the fence and we were going to carve it, however some small animal has been snacking on him so not sure if it will rot.”

As long as the pumpkin has started to turn orange a bit on the vine, it will still ripen, according to certified horticulturalist Danielle Greenstreet. And it helps if you put them in the sun and rotate them a few times a day.

"If temperatures are dropping below freezing at night I recommend picking them and bringing them inside at night," Greenstreet said. "They can last for months depending on how healthy they are when they are picked."

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