Carving a Pumpkin While It's Still on the Vine

Carving a Pumpkin While It's Still on the Vine

Part of Ep. 504 Harvest Creations

Discover this interesting pumpkin carving technique.  Dr. Astrid Newenhouse demonstrates how to  decorate a pumpkin still on the vine.

Premiere date: Jul 31, 1997

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
Harvest season always makes me think of leaves on the ground, the smell of smoke in the air and of pumpkins. We're in our make-believe pumpkin patch. I'm with UW-Extension Horticulturist, Dr. Astrid Newenhouse. Astrid's going to show us how we can carve a pumpkin like this while it's still growing on the vine. Astrid, I've heard of ornamental edibles, but this is super! This is great.

Astrid:
This is a really neat technique, Shelley. What you're looking at is scar tissue. And I've made that scar by using this nail.

Shelley:
Is that the only tool I need for this?

Astrid:
Yes, that's it, just a nail.

Shelley:
That's easy. So, you just carve it in there. Can you show me how you actually do this?

Astrid:
Well, the key to it is that you do it in August or September, four to six weeks before frost.

Shelley:
So it grows into the scar tissue as it gets bigger. Would I want to pick a green pumpkin?

Astrid:
It doesn't have to be green. It has to be whatever size it is so that it still has time to grow. So, a month or a month and a half before frost.

Shelley:
So, in August or September we should be thinking about this?

Astrid:
Yes.

Shelley:
What do you do with the nail, then?

Astrid:
You go out to your field, choose a pumpkin. Leave it on the vine, don't pick it. Then, you just pierce the rind, like this, just below the surface of the rind.

Shelley:
You don't go in deep at all.

Astrid:
No. See, I'm pulling out some of that tissue, like that.

Shelley:
You're just using the nail as a pencil, then.

Astrid:
Right.

Shelley:
That's wonderful. You could carve almost anything you wanted in here.

Astrid:
Yeah.

Shelley:
If I wanted to make kind of a really big picture, I'd take a really young pumpkin, something smaller than this one, maybe.

Astrid:
This would be a good size. You don't want to get too carried a way and take a tiny, little one like a softball or baseball size. Because then, if you were to pierce the rind of that and it were to grow, it would grow so much that it might split that scar.

Shelley:
So, don't get too anxious when we're out there. Is that what happened to this? It looks like I'm actually seeing almost into the pumpkin, there. It's a little too big of a scar.

Astrid:
Yes. If this would have been smaller when I did this, it may have grown so much that it would split the scar and opened up some of the wound, here.

Shelley:
This would be really fun to get kids involved with, because there's no sharp knives. I think the parents should still be around because even a nail can be harmful. But you can safely have some fun and do some experimenting.

Astrid:
Yeah, kids like this. And "experimenting" is the key, too. It's very much a trial and error thing.

Shelley:
So, maybe go out and do a couple different kinds of pumpkins. This one has a face on it. That one has "Boo."

Astrid:
Here's "Spooky." Now, the difference between "Spooky" and "Boo," is that on "Spooky" I just outlined the letters with the nail. Whereas on "Boo," I actually picked out some of that tissue.

Shelley:
And made it a little bit more noticeable.

Astrid:
Right. You can even do your name. Brooke did this one.

Shelley:
That's great. You can have a personalized pumpkin for your kids on halloween. That's super! Thanks, Astrid.

Astrid:
You're welcome, Shelley.

Shelley:
So remember, plan ahead. In August or September, go out into your pumpkin patch and experiment. You, too, can have ornamental edibles in your garden.

Well, I hope we've given you some useful ideas. These are just a few of the many ways you can enjoy the harvest. Here are some other suggestions: You can dry red peppers and create a swag or wreath with them. Use the dried seed heads of these ornamental onions in wreaths or flower arrangements. But still, my favorite way to enjoy the harvest is to eat it.

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