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Vermont Garden Journal: Pumpkins for Halloween

VPR/Peter Biello

Friday, October 25, 2013 at 5:57 p.m. and Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 9:35 a.m. I'm Charlie Nardozziand this is the Vermont Garden Journal. Have you noticed how big a holiday Halloween has become? It seems like there are more parties than ever before and more decorating. It's estimated we'll spend over 7 billion dollars on Halloween this year. That's a lotta candy and costumes! So with the big day quickly closing in on us, it's time to start thinking about carving pumpkins to dress up the yard. While the traditional carving pumpkins are great, I'm always looking for something a little different. In fact, the tradition of carving vegetables for Halloween dates back to Great Britain, but not using the pumpkins we know today. It started with carved turnips, beets and potatoes instead.  I don't think they would have quite the same effect as a 25 pound Jack O Lantern.

When shopping for your Jack O Lantern pumpkin this fall consider looking for some of the more unusual varieties. First, different colors. White pumpkins, such as 'Lumina' and 'Moonshine', create a ghost-like appearance when carved and have candles burning inside. Blue pumpkins, such a 'Jarrahdale' and 'Queensland Blue', hale from down under. They not only have that blue hubbard colored skin, the shape is unusual offering new, scary, carving possibilities. 'Knucklehead' is a warty pumpkin that has knobs all over its orange skin and 'Marina di Chioggia' has warts and blue skin. For the minimalist, try the 8 ounce 'Munchkin' and 'Bumpkin' pumpkins. These small orange fruits are perfect for tiny Jack O Lanterns. While carving is the certainly first goal, remember many of these pumpkins have tasty flesh and seeds that are great for cooking.

And now for this week's tip, wrap the trunks of your young fruit trees with tree wrap this fall to prevent  mice and voles from chewing on the bark and girdling the tree this winter. Tree wrap can be made from hardware cloth or plastic. Place the tree wrap at the ground level up to where the snow line usually is in your area.

Nest week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about overwinter geraniums and other prized annuals. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.

All About Pumpkins
Unusual Pumpkin Varieties

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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