Post Questions or Tips on Carving REAL Pumpkins
Not sure what you can do to identify the first problem before you bring is home but the second problem is the Concrete Kin. I had one a couple years ago and did finally carve it. the carve did not look as good as I would have liked, still not too bad, especially considering what I had to work with. I think is was suggested but I will but I can tell you it is what I do after that pumpkin. I stick my fingernail into it. if the fingernail goes in the pumpkin is carveable, if not look for another pumpkin.
these rock hard Kins are pretty common here in East TN. Local farmers are cross breeding with a type of gourd. Evidently the lack of freezing temps during the winters here have caused a real problem with worm infestations in pumpkin patches. the worms don't eat the gourds and cross breeding doesn't change the look of the pumpkins. The new hybrids do get very woody and damn near impossible to carve though. I use my fingernail near the stem or on the bottom to check but sometimes you just end up with a rock. a local nursery sells them specifically and calls them "Gourdkins".
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Late to the party, gourds & pumpkins cross pollinate very very easily (in my limited experience). give it a tap, feel the skin, which is pretty much a dead giveaway as it always seems to feel rougher / tighter. ...but in the moment of "picking euphoria" you lose it & fail to check everything as you should ...well, I do!