As a child growing up in the 80’s halloween was pretty low key. Trick or treating was something American kids did on TV, I don’t remember dressing up in much other than a white sheet with eye holes cut out, and the highlight was playing bobbing for apples with a bucket on the kitchen floor.
I think we may have had a pumpkin once, or twice, but Halloween certainly wasn’t the epic event it seems to be these days.
Last year, we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our own little pumpkin (aka Baby G), so, with weekends being ‘kept free’ for the main event we found ourselves looking for something to get us and our two year old out of the house (local obv). Our social media feeds were heavily featuring pumpkin picking selfies, so we were inspired to go see what all the fuss was about, and maybe bring home one pumpkin for TG to carve and cheer us all up.
It was pretty awesome. If you have never seen a pumpkin field before…it looks something like this:
We got some great pictures of the family, looking like we were smuggling a pretty massive pumpkin out up my T shirt. It would be rude not to go again with our now 11.5 month old dangermouse and now 3yo TG (I can see an annual event forming here).
So here is my guide to surviving picking your own pumpkins.
1. PumpkinS…plural. If you were picking up your pumpkin stock from ASDA, you’d be pretty chuffed with one lovely orange pumpkin. I guarantee you will be unable to leave with one lone pumpkin. Or two, to be honest. Picking your own pumpkins sends you temporarily pumpkin mad. They all look like homeless puppies which you will feel overwhelmed with desire to provide a home for. When you get home, you’ll wonder why the hell you brought the whole field home with you. Many of these gigs will lend out wheelbarrows – although not enough for everyone. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on one, be warned, you just might fill it. The natural limitations of your own arms may not be a bad thing!
2. Tooling up not required. On our first trip to the pumpkin field we were heavily armed with knives, gardening shears, and sequeters. We were quite frankly lucky not to be arrested. Leave the blades at home – this is a family show and the farmers have kindly already snipped the orange bowling balls from the vines for you. Very thoughtful.
3. Prepare to get Muddy. Obvious isn’t it? Not to the lady in front of us wearing white espadrilles. Wellies or boots are the footwear of choice – remember to bring a pair of trainers to swap into afterwards. It’s probably a good idea to leave that lovely new autumn cape at home too, and opt for a more practical warm option. I had major glove envy as my mother in law had remembered to bring gardening gloves – warm hands and mud free. Top tip.
4. The early bird catches the..pumpkin? These places are really popular, so getting there for opening is a massive bonus in terms of parking and avoiding the crowds. Also, the nearer to Halloween you leave it, the less pumpkins there are going to be. (Although I’m 99% sure one of those fields had been topped up?…). Check the websites or phone ahead to make sure there are still pumpkins going, to save yourself a wasted trip and more importantly distraught kids facing broken promises of pumpkin fun.
5. Don’t forget your bags. But we don’t leave home without them these days do we? (Said no mum ever). Your bag for life will come in super handy to carry your pumpkins. (Although It’s lifelong destiny may be under question post pumpkin holding). Free council black sacks are unlikely to cut the mustard…these pumpkins are pretty heavy.
6. Size is everything. You’ll find a variety of shapes and sizes, but the fun is always in finding the biggest pumpkin isn’t it? We had great fun trying to find the smallest too…
7. Bring some cash. One site we visited did accept cards, but be on the safe side. I refer back to point 1, you will go a bit mad. The pricing is size based too so bear that in mind when selecting your harvest. We spent £15 on around 8 pumpkins and the ‘monster’ size was £4 a pop. This isn’t the cheapest way to source pumpkins, but it’s also not a bad price for a family morning out with some pretty impressive take home goodies.
8. Love the oddities. There will be gorgeously round orange pumpkins, but feel the love for the rainbow coloured, the green, the crazy shaped ones, the [numerous] ones with one flat side, where they have laid on the ground. They all need a home and a scary face.
9. Don’t forget your camera. Ok, no one goes anywhere without one in the shape of your phone, right? But make sure you have it to hand for the amazing photo opportunities that will make you the envy of your pals via the power of social media. Check out the signs for hashtags and facebook pages so you can, if you choose, get involved with the social sharing.
10. Make a day of it. Well, you clearly can’t spend all day choosing pumpkins, but many of these places have other stuff going on – face painting, glitter tattoos, food on sale, halloween fun and games. Take a bit of spending money to get involved. The perfect follow up activity is a stop off at a pub for a roast dinner, cooked by someone else. Do Autumn days get much better than that?
If you live in or around Kent, here are two great tried and tested pumpkin picking farms:
Are you going pumpkin picking or do you think its a load of old nonsense? What are you going to do with all your pumpkins? I’d love to hear about it.