Don't be like Linus and wait all night in the pumpkin patch for a great pumpkin to arrive -- get out and find one yourself!
York County is teeming with prolific pumpkin patches, and you can traipse among the vines to find a gorgeous gourd just for you. Pick-your-own pumpkin experiences make a perfect weekend activity for the family, and we're here to help make sure you go home with the pumpkin perfect for Halloween.
How do you know a pumpkin is ready to be picked?
Before you pluck your pumpkin from the vine, take a few moments to inspect it. Roll it around to make sure it has no holes or damage. Look for a vibrant uniform color and a strong green stem. Those are sure signs a pumpkin is ready to be picked.
There's also a simple test you can use to ensure that orange oblong is ready for its next life as a jack-o-lantern. The pumpkin will also be firm enough that slight pressure from a fingernail will not cut the flesh.
Is there a proper way to pick a pumpkin?
Once you've identified your pumpkin, don't just rip it from the vine. You'll want to extract it without damaging the fruit or the plant. To pick from the vine, hold the stem at the top of the dark green color and gently pull the light-colored softer vines away. The goal is to keep the stem as long as possible, without cutting the plant more than necessary.
Once it's off the vine, don't carry it by the stem, or you might find yourself picking your splattered pumpkin off the parking lot. Instead, bear-hug that beautiful gourd to carry it from the patch. That'll keep it safe for sure.
Does it matter whether you want to carve it or cook it?
If it's a pie that you'd like to make, the pumpkins that make the best jack-o-lanterns probably won't make the tastiest dessert. Experts agree you'll want a long-neck pumpkin instead. They have the most fruit - and it's sweeter. All the better for pumpkin pie!
If you want to make a spooky jack-o-lantern that will delight trick-or-treaters this Halloween, then your mission is clear. You'll want a tall and wide pumpkin with plenty of room for cutting. The best carving pumpkins are typically 25-30 pounds and sit upright.
How to make sure your jack-o-lantern stays fresh all fall?
You'll find no fresher pumpkin than one straight from a farmer's patch.
But here is a nifty trick you can use to extend your pumpkin's haunting season. Just mix a weak chlorine solution with household bleach in a 5-gallon bucket, then dunk the entire carved pumpkin or brush the solution over the surface to keep it free of decay.
You'll need about three teaspoons of bleach in three gallons of water for the solution. It's super simple -- and ensures you won't have any sad, sagging jack-o-lanterns adorning your porch this fall.
OK, where can you actually PICK a pumpkin?
The most important question! Here are just a few places in York County you can go to find the perfect pumpkin!
Flinchbaugh's Orchards - Pick Your Own Pumpkin Patch opened September 12, and will be open Monday-Saturday through October 31. The market will be stocked with ornamental pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn and more decorative items. Flinchbaugh's also features pick your own apples, sunflowers, and a fun corn maze!
Maple Lawn - PYO pumpkin season starts mid-September and runs every weekend through October 29. Typically over 100,000 pumpkins of every shape, color and size await to find their home. The folks at Maple Lawn say their pumpkins aren't just picked, they're adopted.
Paulus Mt. Airy Orchards - You could spend hours roaming the whole 15 acres of pumpkins at Paulus Mt. Airy Orchards looking for just the right pumpkins for carving, painting, cooking or fall decor. The pumpkin patch is open mid-September through October.
Brown's Orchards - Due to the April hard frost, Brown's will not be offering Pick-Your-Own Pumpkins or apples this season. Don't fret though, check out their awesome store to stock up on all your fall essentials.
Let us know how your PYO adventures are going on social media. Tag posts and photos with #ExploreYorkPA to be part of the conversation. For more great ideas on what to do each month in York County, sign up for our Getaway Guide e-newsletter.