Picking pumpkins

Published 10:19 pm Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tommy Thomasson sells pumpkins, gourds and other fall goodies at Creekside Farm Produce in Driver.

Choosing the perfect fall decoration is all personal taste

With the recent chilly weather and Halloween right around the corner, Suffolk residents are busy picking up pumpkins, gourds and squashes to decorate their houses.

Whether it’s part of a centerpiece on the dinner table or carved up as a jack-o’-lantern on the front porch, pumpkins are an essential part of the fall season.

At Creekside Farm Produce in Driver, Tommy Thomasson has been busy since the beginning of the month selling autumn-colored produce to a variety of customers.

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“The craft people usually start buying stuff Oct. 1,” he said.

Bryson Smith, 6, picks a jack-o’-lantern pumpkin to use for a school project in his first grade class at Florence Bowser Elementary School. Bryson said he chose this one because it was big.

The folks that are looking to carve up the pumpkins come in all month long, Thomasson added.

When they stop by his stand, he said, most people are looking for jack-o’-lantern pumpkins, but there are plenty of other varieties.

Cinderellas, full moons, prizewinners and Long Island cheese are just a few that Thomasson keeps at Creekside.

He said he keeps so many varieties because he wants to cater to a wide array of tastes.

“You never know what’s going to tickle someone’s fancy,” he said.

Western Branch resident Andrea Gillette said she loves to come to Creekside Farm Produce because of the variety.

“I really like the white pumpkins,” she said.

She said she visits Mr. Thomasson every year to get pumpkins for her family.

This year, Gillette got a white — or full moon — pumpkin for herself and two classic jack-o’-lantern pumpkins for her kids.

She said her 3-year-old daughter is excited about carving pumpkins this year, but her idea for the face might be a little tough.

“She wants to do SpongeBob (SquarePants),” Gillette said. “I’m not so sure it’s going to work.”

Because of her daughter’s lofty plans, she bought stencils this year instead of winging the design like she usually does.

The same day Gillette picked her produce to decorate her home, 6-year-old Bryson Smith was picking one out for a very different reason.

Smith, who is a first grader at Florence Bowser Elementary School, was picking a pumpkin for a school project.

Next week, his class will open up the pumpkins and use them for different projects, and he wanted to pick a winner.

“I liked this one because it was big,” Bryson said, holding up his new purchase with pride.

In addition to the popular jack-o’-lantern pumpkins, like the one Bryson picked, Thomasson said, pie pumpkins are also good sellers.

While many people use them to make the Thanksgiving staple of pumpkin pie, these pumpkins are also popular because of their petite size.

“They’re something small the kids can handle,” Thomasson said.

He said they are also good to decorate garden beds or using on table displays.

In addition to the pumpkins, there is a multitude of squashes and gourds for people to use as decorations.

Thomasson said a variety of gourds called Lunch Lady is a new trend for fall décor.

“These have been very popular,” he said. “It’s something new people like.”

Thomasson said spraying the gourds with clear lacquer slows their decomposition and makes their colors pop.

Thomasson said there isn’t a specific way to pick the perfect pumpkin.

“It’s just individual taste,” he said.

To keep your pumpkin looking good if it’s outside, Thomasson said, it’s better to place it on a wooden board or a plate to keep it dry.

If it gets wet, the pumpkin rots quicker. Also, being off the ground can keep away the bugs that might get into the fruit.