Making Pumpkins Last

You’ve spent the day out east pumpkin picking and you’ve found THE perfect pumpkin for Halloween (or pumpkins!). Hopefully, you’ve started with a firm pumpkin. Any soft spots will quickly develop into rot, so be aware of that while picking out your pumpkin. Now, how can you keep them lasting through Thanksgiving and beyond?

The first thing to know about keeping your pumpkin fresh is that uncarved pumpkins will last a lot longer than a Jack-o-lantern. Carved pumpkins give mold and decay the opportunity to take hold and begin the decomposition process. 

Now, if you’ve decided to carve your pumpkin, there are a few things you should do to help it last as long as possible. Put a teaspoon of bleach into a quart of water (this is best done in a spray bottle) and cover the pumpkin with the bleach solution. Let it dry before carving. This will sterilize your pumpkin and kill any existing bacteria. Make sure it’s completely dry before carving. 

When you carve your pumpkin it’s important to make sure that you’ve gotten ALL of the pumpkin guts out; the moisture they hold in their guts will speed up the rotting process and mold growth. 

After you’ve carved and cleaned the pumpkin thoroughly, make a mixture of ⅔ cup of bleach and at least a gallon of water in a bucket. Submerge the pumpkin, leaving your pumpkin to soak for up to 24 hours. Once you are done soaking let your pumpkin dry completely. 

Finally, to help prevent mold and to keep the moisture inside the pumpkin, coat the exposed carved edges with petroleum jelly, vegetable oil, or coconut oil. This will keep the gourd from drying out and collapsing too quickly. However, bear in mind that because these are flammable you should not put a candle inside a pumpkin treated in this way. You should use a flameless votive instead. If you want to use a real candle skip the coatings and just hope for the best! At the very least, your pumpkin should be looking good for Halloween, but if you do it right you can keep it going for quite a long while afterward.

How to Remove Tick Bites

If you look online, you’ll find a lot of tips about how to remove a tick. Unfortunately, many of them, like painting the tick with petroleum jelly or nail polish, or holding a hot match to the tick is untrue, and can even be dangerous. This post will discuss the proper way to remove a tick and the best methods for caring for tick bites according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

The types of ticks you’ll find in our area most often are the Deer Tick (or the Black-legged Tick), the Dog Tick, or the Lone Star Tick. The former and the latter are known for spreading tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease.

In the spring, summer, and fall months tick bites are common. The best way to handle a tick bite is with prevention—through the use of an effective insect repellent. However, if you do find a tick attached to you, the key—according to the Centers for Disease Control—is not to panic.

Even though ticks transmit disease, it does not necessarily mean that every bite will infect you. Once you notice a tick on you the most important thing is to remove the tick quickly and cleanly. Using fine-tipped tweezers grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Then, pull cleanly and carefully up and out, making sure not to break off the head and mouthparts. Remember, while ticks transmit disease through bites, leaving these parts behind can lead to infection in the skin.

After removing the tick carefully wash the bite site with soap and water and dispose of the tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Afterward, just keep an eye on the area. While having a small red bump from the bite is normal, if the redness extends out, becomes a bulls-eye rash, or if you have any other symptoms such as lethargy, headache, etc., you may want to seek out medical advice. A doctor can run blood tests to check if the tick has transmitted any diseases to you.

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