JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - With Halloween two weeks away, people are gearing up for pumpkin carving.
You may have seen pumpkin patches around town and also at your grocery store, but where can you buy the most affordable pumpkin and how can you make it last until the 31st?
Pumpkins tend to have a short lifespan. Insects, oxygen and dehydration are some of the causes of pumpkin rotting.
Those at one local pumpkin patch say they keep the pumpkins off wet grass to help preserve them.
"Keep it off of moisture area. That is what helps rot the pumpkin easier," said Liz McCafferty, a youth pastor.
Another tip to make pumpkins last until Halloween is to put carving off.
"Don't carve a pumpkin too early because it will rot immediately," McCafferty said.
Normally patches run out of pumpkins a couple of days before Halloween, so in case you are hosting a holiday party and want to get your pumpkin now, there's a trick for that, too.
"Keep it in the refrigerator and then carve it right before you need it to be carved, because that helps, oddly enough," McCafferty said.
When you go to carve, there's a way to sort of embalm your pumpkin to keep it healthy longer.
Wipe the pumpkin clean. Make a bleach solution of one tablespoon of bleach per quart of water, and put it in a spray bottle. Spray the inside and all cut areas with the solution. Let it dry for 20 minutes, then rub all of the carved surfaces with petroleum jelly and wipe away excess with a paper towel.
After carving your pumpkin, make sure to move it out of the sunlight and into the shade.
There are other alternatives if you don't want to cut into a pumpkin.
"A friend of mine showed me the art of painting your pumpkin, and I have a 15-month-old, so we are going to be painting our pumpkins this year versus carving that way my daughter can participate," McCafferty said.
So now that you know how to preserve, what about the price?
Grocery stores are more affordable for buying pumpkins. Walmart has pumpkins $4.80 for a small and $7.90 for a large. Winn Dixie has them $4.99 for a medium, and Publix has them $7.99 for a large.
Most churches around town that have pumpkin patches use some of the proceeds for youth group retreats and other church activities, so their pumpkins are the most expensive.
Patch prices range depending on the patch, but the one off Gate Parkway had small pumpkins priced at $5, medium sized at $10, and the largest pumpkins in the patch at $35.
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