Halloween is coming

Four-year-old Olivia White visited Dobbies Melville store to see the spooktacular works of art on display.
Four-year-old Olivia White visited Dobbies Melville store to see the spooktacular works of art on display.

October marks the return of a tradition that has been celebrated for hundreds of years, Halloween and this year your little ones can get creative while enjoying the festivities.

Pumpkins classically linked to the annual event start to pop up on door steps, in shop windows and at your local farm shops and there are plenty of reasons to stock up on the seasons favourite squash.

Children are invited to get creative this Halloween, with the Children’s Pumpkin Carving Workshops running from October 27-29 at Dobbies Garden Centres.

The ticketed event also includes a Halloween cupcake and a soft drink and is the perfect outing come rain or shine this weekend.

Run by the Little Seedlings Club, the free-to-join gardening club where youngsters aged 4–10 learn about plants, wildlife and the environment.

Tickets are £10 per child and includes a pumpkin per child to carve and take home, a Halloween cupcake and a soft drink. The workshop lasts one hour.

Book online: https://www.dobbies.com/events/upcoming-events/childrens-pumpkin-carving-workshop

How to: Carve a pumpkin

Pumpkin carving can be lots of fun for the family - and it can be super-easy with these tips.

Choose a large pumpkin that is firm and shows no sign of decay.

Or if you’re harvesting your own pumpkin, harden the shell by storing it on a permeable surface in a dark shed at room temperature for two weeks.

Draw on your design with a non-permanent felt tip pen so you can wipe it away if you make a mistake.

Cut the lid from the lantern by removing the top and stalk – keep your knife at an angle.

Scoop out the centre of the pumpkin, seeds and all.

Carefully cut out your design with a sharp knife, taking care with the blade.

Put a tealight in the centre of the lantern and replace the lid.

Save the pumpkin flesh you’ve scooped out and create a warming pumpkin soup, pumpkin curry or pumpkin cake.

Save and dry the pumpkin seeds you scoop out of your pumpkin’s centre. You can sow the seeds next spring and grow your own pumpkin for next year. Or use them for arts and crafts fun.

When your lantern has passed its best, cut it up and add it to your compost heap. This way it’s recycled and used for the good of your garden.

Always supervise children when carving.

Did you know?

A vintage vegetable...

Originating from North America, the oldest evidence of pumpkin-related seeds date between 7000 and 5500BC in Mexico. The name pumpkin originated from the Greek word for “large melon”.

Sun ripened pumpkins...

Generally, it is best to sow pumpkins in pots indoors, planting out once all risk of frost is passed. Pumpkins need the late summer sun to ripen, so leave out as long as possible, but harvest before the first frosts of Autumn. The record for the largest pumpkin to be grown outdoors in Britain was broken in 2016, weighing in at a hefty 600kg.

Eating and decorating...

Pumpkins are great fun for carving for Halloween, but are also tasty in hearty soups and curries. They make for a beautiful and colourful decorative display when grouped together in various sizes and different shades of vibrant, burnt oranges. The addition of two large whole pumpkins either side of your front door will quickly add some autumn cheer or, if you are hosting an at-home bonfire night supper, a nice idea is to use them as you would a vase and fill one large pumpkin with fresh flowers to create a stunning autumnal centrepiece.

Good for you...

One cup of pumpkin has around 550mg of potassium, making it one of the highest sources amongst fruits and vegetables.

Waste not want not...

Once pumpkins have been used for decorating the house or for Halloween pumpkin carving competitions they can be disposed of on the compost heap, along with your other vegetable kitchen waste. They make great composting for better nutrient-rich soil come spring time in the garden.