It hasn't been the best growing season for pumpkins locally, but don't panic-the bright orange gourds are still in plentiful supply at area farm markets.
"We've sold a bunch of them, and our largest-a huge pumpkin-sold for $69 today," said Rosemary Brammer who was operating the Witten Farm Market stand on Pike Street Sunday.
She said while some of the pumpkins are grown on the Witten farm, others are ordered from growers in Ohio's Amish country.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Karli Schaad, 6, and her 9-year-old brother Owen pick out a couple of pumpkins at the Witten Farm Market stand on Pike Street Sunday afternoon.
Ed and Kerri Schaad of Marietta were helping their children Karli, 6, and Owen, 9, pick out a couple of large pumpkins at the Witten stand.
"They wanted something they could carve into Jack O' Lanterns," Ed said. "They get one each-it helps eliminate any sibling rivalry."
A few miles north on Ohio 7 in Reno pumpkins were in good supply at Hensler's Town and Country Market.
To paint or carve you need only look for any pumpkin that is visually appealing, evenly a deep orange. The shape is whatever appeals to you.
It should be free from cuts, soft spots, bruises. The flesh should feel hard, and not give easily. Infections can invade easily and cause rot
Make sure the stem is attached.
Store the pumpkin carefully, especially if you pick it from the vine yourself. Cure a fresh-picked pumpkin by keeping it in a dry place. Don't handle or disturb it. Curing toughens the rind, making it less prone to rot. Pumpkins will keep for months in a cool (50 to 65 degrees dry, low humidity environment like a cool, dry basement).
To make pumpkin pie you need a small, sweet type of pumpkin that has been developed for eating. They are smaller, typically about 8- to 10-inches in diameter. The meat is much less stringy and smoother than a decorative pumpkin variety.
Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A and potassium. One-half cup of cooked pumpkin provides more than the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains only 81 calories. It's low in fat and sodium.
"We used to grow them on our farm, but now we order them from all Ohio growers-most within a couple hours of here," said Candy Hensler, co-owner of the market with husband Travis.
She said pumpkin sales take off in late September through October.
"This weekend kind of kicks it off, and the sales continue until Halloween," Candy said. "Travis and I have been selling pumpkins since we were about 17. This is our 20th season, and we always sell out."
Most of the pumpkins go for fall decorations, she said, although some of the smaller gourds will go into pumpkin pies.
Out on Muskingum Drive Huck's Farm Market had ordered plenty of pumpkins for the fall season.
"We just had a large shipment of pumpkins for carving or decoration," said store associate Adam Lankford.
He said some of the pumpkin crop comes from the Huck farm, but the majority is ordered through a produce distributor out of Parkersburg, W.Va.
"We've been selling quite a few this weekend," Lankford said.
But some local pumpkin growers, like Blake Campbell of Waterford, were a bit disappointed with this year's crop.
"I have my own field on the farm and planted pumpkins three times this year," he said. "The first came up but just kind of died while they were still little plants. The last two plantings brought nothing whatsoever."
Campbell said his grandfather, Charlie Campbell, usually has a decent crop of pumpkins each year, but even his patch was sparce this year.
He blamed the no-to-low yield of pumpkins on a wet growing season.
"We put them in around March or April, but I lost the whole field due to too much rain," Campbell said.
Melissa Duff of Marietta agreed.
"We tried to grow pumpkins from last year's seeds," she said. "The green vines grew great, but with all the rain it was too wet for the pumpkins to grow. And my dad swears he's never seen pumpkins rot on the ground like they did this year."