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Pumpkin Planters Perk Up Porches And Holiday Tables

Several small pumpkins sit on a porch filled with succulent plants.
Charlie Nardozzi, Courtesy
Learn a fun way to use pumpkins as centerpieces or fall decorations.

Reuse the pumpkins on your porch step by turning them into planters for small succulents!

To make a pumpkin centerpiece, first gather up materials:

  • A good selection of smaller and larger potted succulent plants (aloe, hens and chicks and echeveria work well)
  • A bit of potting soil
  • A knife
  • Some uncarved pumpkins

Get carving and planting:

  • Begin by cutting off the top and stem of the pumpkin, but leave all the seeds and guts inside!
  • Pop the succulents from their pots and place along with their soil directly into the pumpkin cavity. 
  • Pro tip: If the pumpkin hole is too roomy for the plants you've selected, you can take a small plastic tub (like a butter or hummus container from your recycling bin), push that down into the cavity to create a sort of "stage," then cover with a bit of potting soil. Place your succulents on top of that.
  • Your pumpkin succulent planter will thrive with just a bit of watering; the plants love the moist environment the pumpkin provides. 
  • Decorate your three-season porch or doorstep until it freezes over, or add it as a centerpiece inside to your holiday table!

Watch Charlie create a pumpkin planter using small succulents on WCAX.

Q: How frozen does the garden need to be before covering it with straw for the winter? — Mary, in Stowe

Cover it before the ground is frozen. This goes for your both veggie and flower gardens. You can use the chop-and-drop method we’ve discussed on this program before, and use that as a mulch covering, or use a layer of hay, straw or chopped leaves.

Do this in mid-November before it gets too cold and before critters discover your beds and decide to make it their winter home.

Q: When do I harvest saffron from the saffron-bearing crocus? — Jo, in Richmond

It is an autumn-flowering flower that does grow here. University of Vermont has a research and development center where saffron flowers are grown under hoop houses. 

The time to harvest is when the flowers open up. When they do, remove the stamen with tweezers. On either side of that, you will usually get three orange-colored threads per flower. Those threads are the stigmas, and those are the saffron.

Growing and harvesting saffron is labor-intensive but fetches up to $10,000 per pound! The issue is that it takes 150 flowers to get one gram.

A thin grey line.

All Things Gardening is powered by you, the listener! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes. You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling VPR at (802) 655-9451.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition Sunday with VPR host Mary Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Have questions, comments or tips?Send us a messageor get in touch by tweeting us @vprnet.

We've closed our comments. Read about ways to get in touch here.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
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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