One of the first things that comes to mind when I think of the autumn season is pumpkins: pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, pumpkin decorations, pumpkin spice lattes and carving jack-o-lanterns for Halloween. Picking out pumpkins at a pumpkin patch is such a quintessential autumn activity that is fun for friends, couples and a family outing!
Pumpkin picking season in Ottawa runs from late September to late October. Make sure to check websites and social media pages to get exact dates/opening hours, and available activities which may change. There’s often more to do at these farms than just pick pumpkins: enjoy corn mazes, wagon rides, pony rides, farmer’s markets and more. Continue reading for 9 pumpkin patches near Ottawa and how to pick the best pumpkin!
Pumpkin Patches in Ottawa
Millers’ Farm and Market (Rideau Valley Drive, south of Manotick): My favourite pumpkin patch is the Millers’ Farm and Market, featuring pumpkins, squash and gourds galore! Make sure to catch a wagon ride, check out their corn maze ($), visit the farmers market and bring your dog to this dog friendly patch!
Abbey Hill Farms (Richmond): The main Abbey Hill Farms is in Richmond but you’ll find the main satellite location at Bankfield and Prince of Whales, just east of the 416. It has rows upon rows of pre-picked pumpkins, as well as seasonal vegetables, flowers and apples.
Cannamore Orchard (Cannamore, south-east of Ottawa): At Cannamore Orchard, you can either pick-your-own or find a pre-picked pumpkin. Take their spooky wagon ride and or visit their other family attractions during October.
Maple Hill Farm (near Bells Corners): Maple Hill Farm has a picture perfect red barn can be found on this publicly owned 20,000-hectare expansive farm. Their corn stalks maze is a 7 acre labyrinth open from early September to November and admission is $15.
Proulx Berry Farm (Cumberland): The Proulx Farm annual pumpkin festival starts September 19, 2021 until Halloween. Stop by for their snack bar, farm boutique, pick-your-own pumpkin patch, and free parking!
Log Cabin Orchard (Osgoode): Don’t let their name fool you: The Log Cabin Orchard also has a one-acre pick-your-own pumpkin patch! Find a perfect pumpkin for a jack-o-lantern, to paint or to eat!
Saunders Farm (Munster): Saunders Farm is well known for their annual Halloween attractions and FrightFest, but you can also find some good pumpkins – and there’s no admission to pay if you’re just browsing the pumpkin patch.
Fallowfield Tree Farm (Stittsville): Stop by the Fallowfield Tree Farm for wagon rides, horse and pony rides, and bonfires, as well as a large pumpkin patch.
How to Pick the Best Pumpkin
First, decide what you want to use your pumpkin for. Most pumpkins are edible, but some are better for pies/pumpkin treats and others are better for decoration and the shape will define which are best for carving! For a baking pumpkin, you’ll want a “sugar pie” pumpkin (about 2-3 lbs), look for perfectly round pumpkins for decorating and tall flat pumpkins for carving! Those big pumpkins will not be the ones you want to make pumpkin pie!
Lift from the bottom
The stem is an important part of keeping your pumpkin as fresh as possible because it provides water to the pumpkin. The stem always seems like a perfect handle but avoid breaking it off by lifting from the bottom.
Pick a green stem
A green stem signifies a fresher fruit so avoid a brownish, mushy or dried out stem. If you’re picking your own pumpkin, snip the vine on either side of the stem rather than the stem itself. If you’re grabbing a pre-picked pumpkin, look for a greener stem.
Tap for hollow sound
Like watermelons, if you tap the pumpkin and hear a deep, hollow, echoing sound, you’ve found a good one!
Firm leathery skin with no blemishes
If you poke the pumpkin and the skin is soft, move on to another pumpkin. The best pumpkins will have a firm, leathery feel that springs back (or has no give) when you poke it. As well, you’ll want a pumpkin with little to no cuts because cuts will cause the pumpkin to rot faster. You can clean the outside of your pumpkin to reduce rotting (use a diluted bleach solution with 1 part bleach to 9 parts water).