With temperatures in the 70s and 80s, October can be a tricky month with regards to traditional seasonal outdoor decorations, namely carved pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns for Halloween. Carving too early in the month will lead to a moldy mess, however waiting too long makes your neighbors wonder about your dedication to the fun holiday and changing seasons. This leads to the question of "when is the ideal time to carve my pumpkin-based artwork?"
Unofficial studies have been done, however the climates of these experiments vary. In order to get an accurate idea of when to carve in Eastern Carolina, we would have to do our own localized experiment. Enter Randy, the experimental WITN jack-o-lantern. He was carved with a simple grin, complete with two eyes and a nose, a standard as far as jack-o-lanterns are concerned. He was placed outside the WITN studio under cover, but still very much exposed to the sun and wind.
Carving took place September 29th and each afternoon, Randy would get a check-up. The following is a complete diagnosis of Randy’s condition:
Day 1: Randy is looking fresh and happy, no signs of deterioration, dryness or mold.
Day 2: Dryness starting to occur around Randy’s teeth. Still bug and mold free.
Day 3: Dryness around mouth, eyes and nose has slightly worsened. Still bug and mold free.
Day 4: Discoloration around his mouth has started, eyes and nose still dry. No bugs or mold to be seen.
Day 5: Randy’s teeth have started to shrivel and discoloration has spread to eyes and nose. Dryness appears to be catching up with him. Bugs have started to make a home inside Randy’s smile. Small mold spots have started forming inside Randy’s head.
Day 6: Black rot and mold has spread quite a bit inside of Randy. There are far more bugs than on Day 5. Randy has started leaking out of the bottom of his head.
Day 7: The leaking has increased out of Randy, and the bugs are swarming. Mold is visible through his mouth.
Day 8: The cap to Randy’s head has collapsed. This is the end of Randy. Bugs are everywhere. When we attempted to lift Randy up, the bottom of his head gave out due to collected moisture inside the pumpkin.
It’s fair to say you can keep a pumpkin outside for slightly longer than 8 days due to Randy’s early carve date of September 29th, however temperatures haven’t fallen far enough to extend the life of carved pumpkins past 12 days. As far as bugs are concerned, if you light your pumpkin each night, they won’t be too much of an issue. One thing to note though, fire inside your pumpkin could lead to increased cap/lid shrinkage, causing it to collapse inside your pumpkin sooner than the 8 day period.
Optimal Carving Date For This Halloween:
We encourage that you carve your pumpkins about 5 days out from Halloween, just to be sure your doorstep artwork will be in good conditions when the trick-or-treaters come knocking. But if you’d like to carve sooner, a Sunday night carving session would be appropriate. Have a mold and bug free happy Halloween!