What is a pumpkin patch
Visit a pumpkin patch for fall family fun from Halloween to ThanksgivingYou know how strolling an outdoor farmers market is so much more enjoyable than bumping around the crowded produce aisle at the grocery store? Well, a pumpkin patch is the very best place for choosing seasonal goodies. Picking your own gourds and squash right off the vine is only the beginning.
In their most basic form, these fall havens are a field of vines with plump orange squashes hanging on by a stem. Theyíre often located on a farm and may not look like much when you first pull up the driveway. Once you make your way to the patch, look up and take in the sight of changing leaves and the smell of a bountiful harvest.
What to Expect
Some farms go all out with their patches. You can walk to the field wheeling your kids in a wagon, or catch a hayride. Hayrides are typically in the open end of a wagon attached to a tractor. The seating is comfortable thanks to bails of hay and blankets.
If you ever went on a hayride as a kid, the smell of hay probably takes you right back to the fun, bumpy rides through a farm. Before you know it, youíre reaching for a cider or cup of hot cocoa wondering if your kids might enjoy a few hours in the field, too. They will!
These days, many places sell homemade goods along with funny shaped gourds and dried corn stalks. You may find a table of pies baked about as fresh as you can get them, as well as apple sauce, muffins and candies.
Some patches host all-day festivals with scary stories, live local music and other events. If the farm has pigs, cows and other animals, they may set up a small petting and feeding area. One of the most popular events are carving contests, where youíll see neighbors create works of art with only a knife (or chainsaw) and gigantic squash.
Corn mazes are another common feature at a pumpkin patch. During the day, these are literally mazes cut out of maize thatís taller than most people. At night, if youíre lucky, these mazes are haunted with masked boogie men jumping out of the shadows Ė itís a thrill for older kids and adults (probably too much for younger children).
Closer to October 31st, these farms become a hub of holiday activity. Some have costume contests and Halloween balls, while others have haunted hayrides or ghost tours through town.
Find the Perfect Pumpkin
How could you visit a patch without bringing home a pumpkin? Picking out a good one to carve is easy. Look for one with a dark orange color thatís free of bruises and soft parts. Tug gently at the stem to make sure itís in good condition. If you already know what you want to carve, choose a shape thatíll accentuate your image.
If you plan to turn the squash into a pie, go for a smaller one that about 8-10 diameters. These have more meat and less of the stringy mess inside. Pull out the seeds and bake them for a simple, healthy snack.
Grow Your Own
If you have a green thumb, you can grow your own mini pumpkin patch from seed. The vines need room to grow so at least 20 square feet in full sun in an area with good drainage is ideal. AllAboutPumpkins suggests planting seeds the first week of June and offers a number of helpful growing tips.
Spending a day at a farm is a perfect way to celebrate the season and create lasting family memories.