Asked August 02, 2016, 3:24 PM EDT
Cuyahoga County Ohio
Congratulations on your pumpkins! First of all, as long as there’s no frost in the forecast, your pumpkin is fine and actually better off left on the vine. It will continue to grow as long as the leaves and vine are healthy. If the leaves are under severe insect or disease attack and have all nearly died, then consider harvesting your pumpkin. It won’t grow if there aren’t any leaves to feed it.
Generally speaking, if the vine and leaves are healthy, the first clue to knowing it’s pumpkin harvesting time is skin or rind color. A pumpkin that’s ready for harvest should be fully colored—whatever that hue might be. The rind should also be firm. If your fingernail easily pierces or creates an indentation in the skin, the pumpkin isn’t ready to harvest. Pick a pumpkin that’s too soft, and it will shrivel within a few days. Do your fingernail test on the back of a pumpkin—somewhere you won’t see any mark you might create.
Check the vine and stem. Sometimes you’ll notice that the vine has actually started to dry off and pull away from the pumpkin stem, which may shrivel, twist a bit, and become more dry. If you see this on your vine, the pumpkin is fully colored, and you’ve tested the rind with your fingernail, it’s probably pumpkin harvesting time. But you can pick your pumpkin based on rind color and firmness alone, without seeing any of these vine or stem signs.
Additionally, the packet that the seeds came in (if you have it) should list the number of growing days for your pumpkin variety.
Enjoy your harvest!
Hope this helps!