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Pumpkin on a stick

Learn how to grow pumpkins on a stick and you’ll have some unique plants for fall decorating
Photo courtesy of University of Nebraska

Pumpkins come in all sizes, shapes and colors off the vine. If you really want to amaze your friends and family, grow yours on a stick.

Kathleen Cue is an Extension horticulture educator at the University of Nebraska. She says the pumpkin-on-a-stick plant grows on stems that are about three-feet tall. It’s actually in the eggplant family, but when the fruits are ripe, they sure look like pumpkins.

"When it begins to set fruit, they’re very bright green in color. They’re shiny, and there’s ribs from top to bottom, just like in a pumpkin there’s those ribs that go down the sides. They’re roundish in nature, maybe a couple inches tall and maybe 3”-4” wide," says Cue. "They’re arranged around the stem going up the stem, and they ripen with the lowest ones first because those are the oldest on the plant."

Early in the season, fruits can be picked and prepared as you would any other eggplant. They’re very popular in stir fry dishes. By the end of September as the weather gets cooler, the fruits will turn orange and you can harvest stems and all. Cue says make sure you’re wearing sturdy gloves – for a very good reason.

"I like to cut them right at the ground level and then I peel all the leaves off of it, and I turn the stems upside down and let them dry for awhile, so usually a week or two in an indoor shed or inside the house," says Cue. "One thing that a lot of people don’t realize about it is that it does have thorns, and they’re nasty. So, when you harvest them, wear some leather gloves. Use your pruners to clip off those thorns all along that stem."

Cue suggests using them in dried arrangements, display them in jars, and save the seeds to grow another crop next year.

Learn more about growing pumpkins on a stick 

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