Pumpkin patches dot the landscape in Maine, adding to the beauty of cool autumn days. Picking time is in full swing by mid-October. Farmers and gardeners all across the state provide a pick-your-own opportunity to allow families the harvest-time experience. It is an adventure to pick pumpkins on a colorful sunny day in Maine.
Pumpkins may ripen as early as mid-September in Maine. Of course, the ideal time for them to ripen is October, the Halloween month. The best time to pick the orange gourds is early-to-late October unless you are able to store them in a cool place until carving time. Home gardeners will pick the gourds as they ripen if the plants are dying and unable to provide water and nutrition to them. When frosts threaten the pumpkin crop, the gardener will cover them at night until they are picked or the weather warms up again. Pumpkins that will be used for canning and baking should be picked when fully ripe and stored for the winter.
Pumpkin growers in Maine offer the opportunity for the customer to go into the actual growing beds to pick pumpkins by hand. The farmer may encourage people to walk into the growing field on foot or may provide rides to the pumpkin patch. The owner may provide a tractor pulled wagon ride or a horse drawn hay ride for the enjoyment of adults and children. Customers may pick ripe pumpkins to take back to the main stand or shed to pay for them. Work with young children to help them understand that the orange pumpkins are ready for harvest. Show the child how to pick the firm gourds without tearing vines from the plants.
Pumpkin farmers in Maine try to offer more for the harvest time experience. Plan a daylong adventure at a farm that also offers a corn maze. Pack a lunch and enjoy the twists and turns of the maze before trekking through the pumpkin field to choose your jack o' lantern pumpkins. Some farms will have rows of already picked pumpkins on display for the customer to choose from. Enjoy fresh apple cider, crisp fruit, cocoa and goodies that the farm stand has to offer to its fall visitors. Call the farm a few days ahead of your trip to be sure that it is open and to learn of any special activities that may be planned for visitors.
It is important to observe the rules of the individual farm that you visit in Maine at pumpkin-picking time. Many farms do not allow any pets on their land for the safety of farm animals and all visitors. The no-smoking policy at these farms is also for the protection of all who are on the land during harvest time. There are dry bales of hay, cornstalk and other decorations that will present a fire hazard on a farm. Children must be under the care of adults when in the pumpkin patch, on a ride or when they are attempting to wander out of the boundaries set for the Maine farm adventure.
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