The Greener View: Growing Pumpkins
If you are planning ahead to next year's Halloween and need to repel vampires, it is not too late to plant garlic. Garlic is an easy-to-grow garden crop. It is planted in the fall along the edge of the garden, where it will be out of the way. It will sprout in the spring, grow some leaves and be harvested in the early summer. Check out your local garden center or the Territorial Seed Co. website for last minute shopping.
Q: I worked very hard this summer to grow a large pumpkin. It grew to be a couple of feet tall, and it is very heavy, but it is not anywhere near the size it would need to be to win a contest. I followed all the fertilizing and watering instructions, but it just quit growing a month ago. What can I do to grow a larger one next summer?
A: The key thing to start with is seeds from a variety of large pumpkins. Genetics trump superb care of a lesser pumpkin. There are many websites selling seeds for pumpkins that grow very large.
Many people think of pumpkins as being orange and slightly oval in shape, but there are dozens of varieties of pumpkins available. Some are very small, some are white, blue-grey or mottled, and some are very warty. It used to be hard to find these unusual varieties, but they are becoming more common.
The pumpkin used to make most canned pumpkin is the Dickinson pumpkin. It is a brownish, oval pumpkin that can weigh 40 to 50 pounds. The flesh on the inside is very orange and thick, without a lot of the watery stringiness of the typical Halloween pumpkin.
Pumpkins are in the winter squash group. Actually, "pumpkin" is not a botanical term. It is just a common usage term for a wide variety of fruits from four different species of squash in the Cucurbita genus. This genus also includes cucumbers and melons. The four different species are C. moschata, C. mixta, C. pepo and C. maxima.
The humongous pumpkins that win the county fair prizes are from the C. maxima species, while the orange jack-o'-lantern pumpkins come from the C. pepo species.
A great source of different kinds of pumpkins and other winter squash is the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog. Find out more at https://rareseeds.com.
I know many of you are trying to put your gardens to bed for the winter. Cleaning up all the tree leaves and cutting down all the perennial flower stems is good, but many people never take care of their gardening tools.
Take a little time this fall to protect all of the wooden-handled tools. When was the last time you oiled the wood on your rakes and shovels? Probably never, right? These tools get left out in the sun and rain, both of which take their tolls on the wood. Splinters develop, and they can really hurt when they slice into your hands. A light sanding may be necessary to smooth out the handle. Then, use linseed oil or a polyurethane product to protect the wood.
Next, take a look at the metal. It may need a light sanding with steel wool to remove rust and blemishes. Then, rub a light coating of oil on all of the metal parts to prevent rust.
Good tools can be expensive. A little cleanup and care before they are stored for the winter will help them last a long time.
Email questions to Jeff Rugg at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Jeff Rugg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.