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How to tell when your pumpkin is ready to be picked:

Color is a Good Indicator

Chances are that if your pumpkin is orange all the way around, your pumpkin is ripe. (Obviously, they are not referring to Jap type - my clue for these is when the whitish spots - clearly seen in the pic above, start to turn yellowish).  But on the other hand, a pumpkin does not need to be all the way orange to be ripe.   Some pumpkins are ripe when they are still completely green.  When you are ready to harvest a pumpkin, use other ways to double check whether it is ripe or not.

Give them a Thump

Another way how to tell when pumpkins are ripe is to give the pumpkin a good thump or a slap. If the pumpkin sounds hollow, that the pumpkin is ripe and ready to be picked.

The Skin is Hard

The skin of a pumpkin will be hard when the pumpkin is ripe. Use a fingernail and gently try to puncture the pumpkin’s skin. If the skin dents but does not puncture, the pumpkin is ready to pick.

The Stem is Hard

When the stem above the pumpkin in question starts to turn hard, the pumpkin is ready for picking.

Most pumpkins then need to sit for a week or so before eating. Japs can be eaten as soon as picked.

Harvesting and storing
Pinch out growing tips of rambling stems to contain plants. When fruits are finished swelling, remove them with as much of the stalk as possible. Ripe fruits with unbroken skin store very well if kept in a cool, dry, well-ventilated space. Seed can be saved from fruit one month after harvesting them. Scoop seed from flesh, wash, dry and store in a cool, dry spot away from sunlight. To ensure seed-grown progeny comes true, save seed from one variety grown in isolation.

Simple pumpkin soup recipe

Perfect with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh chives alongside some crusty bread.


  • 1 butternut pumpkin, peeled de-seeded and cubed
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp Massel chicken flavoured stock powder
  • Salt and pepper


Heat oil in a pan and fry all vegetables until golden.

Add 2 L boiling water to the pan and stir in stock powder.

Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes until all vegetables are soft.

Using a stick mixer liquefy all the soup until it’s nice and smooth.

Taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly.

Slow cooker pumpkin soup recipe

This slow cooker pumpkin soup is a perfect winter soup and so easy to make. Cook a big batch and freeze some for those extra cool days.


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2kg pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 2 litres boiling water
  • 3 tsp Massel chicken stock powder
  • pepper to taste


In a frying pan, heat the butter and oil and fry the pumpkin, potato, carrot and onion until they begin to soften (about 5-7 minutes). Add to the slow cooker.

Add the stock powder and boiling water and stir.

Cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours.

Use a stick blender to liquify and season to taste.


  • I like to serve this soup with a spoon of sour cream and some chives to garnish.
  • Frying the vegetables for a few minutes increases the depth of flavour.
  • Be careful to taste this soup before seasoning as the stock powder can be very salty.


From Brett McDougall at Logan:

Bretts crop - over 400 in total:


Re pollinating flowers - Comment by brett mcdougall 10 hours ago

Well I did mine late afternoon even if the male flowers where closed but made sure they were the same day and if I had plenty of males I would polinate the females that were closed ready to open it didn't seem to hurt and it worked :)


I have planted some Butternut seed in the front yard and they've come up despite the current hot dry weather. I am watering every couple of days.


Butternut Pumpkin is descended from the gramma pumpkin that was widely grown in Australia in the nineteenth century. Butternut was developed in the 1930s and has been steadily growing in favour ever since. As the average family size has decreased, Butternut’s popularity has overtaken that of larger pumpkins such as Queensland Blue.

Butternut is a reasonably compact grower that is ideal for home gardens. Once the weather is reliably warm, sow seeds into mounds of moist soil. After germination, thin to the two strongest plants in each mound. Fertilise regularly with Yates Uplift, and try to only apply water at the base of the plant. This keeps the leaves dry, which reduces the risk of mildew disease.

Butternut is one of the group called ‘neck’ pumpkins because they narrow from their bulbous base to the stalk. Butternut’s orange flesh is rich in carotene and can be used for both sweet and savoury dishes. If allowed to mature on the vine until the stalk browns off, Butternut pumpkins store well.

Matt Heng has shared a great link with us about why pumpkins abort apparently healthy baby fruit:

Pumpkins aborting healthy fruits

I’m trying to grow pumpkins, and some of the fruit have successfully started growing, but others simply die off. Sometimes they even die off before the flower opens! What am I doing wrong?

Female Butternut flowers all in a row

Female Butternut flowers all in a row

Many pumpkin varieties do their best work when only growing one to three plants per vine. Often the plant will have two or three female flowers appear very close to each other, at consecutive junctions on the vine (about 5 to 8 inches apart -see picture above). The plants prefer to have their two or three fruit spaced well apart, so having two or more fruit at consecutive junctions is definitely not ideal! The purpose of growing female flowers so close together, is so if the first flower fails to be pollinated, there are backup flowers ready within a few days, giving the plant a second chance. When the first flower *is* successfully pollinated, the subsequent flowers are aborted a few days later (even if they have now opened and been pollinated in the meantime). Many first-time pumpkin growers -myself included last year -don’t realise this, and can’t understand why half the flowers they have so carefully pollinated have died off. Nothing appears to be wrong, some of the fruit are growing heartily, so why do others simply die? The answer, of course, is that it’s completely normal for the extra flower/fruit to die off. There is nothing wrong.

I have experienced this first hand with Butternut Pumpkins. Below is an example of a ‘second fruit’ that died off before it even reached the flowering stage. Previously the whole fruit & flower had been the same green colour as the main vine. When the plant aborts it, it turns a cream or yellow colour, then rots into a dark brown or black before falling off the vine. If you lightly nudge the aborted fruit even at the cream colour stage, the fruit will easily fall off the vine.

Aborted Pumpkin Flower

Aborted Pumpkin Flower

There are other reasons why an otherwise healthy flower might be aborted (before or after pollination), such as extreme temperatures, lack of water, or severe damage to the main vine. Basically, anything which threatens the plant’s ability to grow a healthy fruit and keep itself alive at the same time. However, it is much less likely to abort a fruit more than a few days after pollination -certainly by a week after pollination, you can be pretty certain the fruit will be safe in all but the most extreme conditions.

Also, not all pumpkins limit themselves to just a few fruits; it’s mostly those that grow large fruit on long trailing vines. There are some varieties though, such as the Golden Nugget Pumpkins, which happily grow large numbers of fruits. At the moment I have 21 Golden Nugget pumpkins growing on just four plants! Click on the Golden Nugget Pumpkins tag on the right to learn more about them.

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Comment by Lissa on January 31, 2012 at 16:55

I used to make a pumpkin soup when the kids were young by putting the entire pumpkin into the microwave after the seed had been scooped out of a hole in the top.

Comment by Lissa on January 31, 2012 at 16:54

They are :) - like little works of art.

In spite of my visiting the flowers nearly every morning and pollinating the (very) odd female flower that presents itself, this is the only one that grew a fruit for me.

It snapped off while I was putting some foam under it this afternoon, but I believe it was ready to pick.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on January 31, 2012 at 16:42

Aren't they the most beautiful things? There's a couple of other Pumpkin soup recipes on this site too - all Pumpkin soup is good, some's just a tad more tasty than others ;-)

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