Archive for September 30, 2018

Pumpkins

Our Dunvegan Gardens Pumpkin Festival is October 6 and this month we celebrate Pumpkins.

We will have 3 contests at our Festival:  Best Pie, Best Carving, Biggest Pumpkin

There is so much you can do with pumpkins, they truly are a nutritious food to add to soups, stews, casseroles and of course muffins, pie and cookies. You can freeze pumpkin to use at a later date as well.

Growing pumpkins is relatively easy in the north, we recommend getting a small plant already started from our nursery in the spring. There are so many types and kinds of pumpkins, from the sweet pie pumpkins to the huge and massive. The current world record holder is 1,000 kilograms.

Pick a sunny patch with rich deep soil, that is not too soggy, they like moist roots, and not too dry. Pumpkins take a lot of nutrients from the ground so be sure to add some mature compost or manure to the soil.

Give your plants a lot of room to grow, not just a bit –  a lot of room, pumpkin plants grow with large leaves, prickly stems and grow long vines.

You do not need a cross-pollinator with pumpkins because the plants actually produce male and female flowers on the same plant. You do need bees to pollinate between the flowers, the female flowers are the ones that produce the fruit. If your plant is not producing you may need to pollinate it by hand with a small paintbrush.

How do you know if the pumpkins are ready to pick?

  • Listen for a hollow thump when you tap it, much like a watermelon
  • Make sure the vine has died down and turned brown
  • Pumpkin skin should be hard like a shell
  • Cut off the stem with a sharp knife or a pair of pruners

Pumpkins that are green will turn orange with warmth and sunshine even after they are picked.

To cook a pumpkin:  put a couple of knife slices (like poking a baked potato) into the sides of the whole pumpkin, a really important step so they do not blow up in your oven. Place onto a cookie sheet and put into a 250 oven for 2-3 hours, or until it is soft with a fork or knife poke. If the pumpkins are too high you can snap off the woody stem at the top as you will not need it.

Once baked, cut them in half and let them cool, then scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff. Some people will keep the seeds and roast them to eat, then with a spoon, scrape the “meat” away from the skin, this is the part you use for baking and cooking or freeze it to use throughout the winter.

 

 

Fall Clean Up

The first icy blast of winter has descended upon us this month and it came quickly so hopefully you got your ground vegetables out but if not, do not fret you still have some time and in fact some vegetables need a snap of cold to mature and sweeten. Freezing temperatures cause some of the starch in the vegetables to turn into sugar thus producing a sweeter tasting vegetable.

The following vegetables will do well in the ground even after the tops die off from the cold. Potatoes, carrots, beets, turnip, rutabagas and parsnips will be fine in the ground for 2-3 weeks after the tops die off as long as the ground is not too wet or frozen. Do not leave them too long or you can find mushy, squishy vegetables instead of nice crisp and sweet ones.

Onions should have been taken out of the ground by now as they do not do well in the cold.

For the rest of the garden and flower bed areas, adding in some of our rich bagged compost or manure and mixing to about 6” is a great idea so you can just plant in the spring and not have to worry about adding nutrients.

Get rid of the container plants and flowers before the snow comes. Pull out the plants and ensure you get all the roots, some dirt can stay in your container as long as it will remain dry, if not empty all your containers and put the pots away for the winter and add your plants to your compost.

You may want to start storing away all your shovels and rakes, do some maintenance on your lawn mower and store them away for the winter.

Fall Bulbs for Spring Color

Do you love those fresh and colorful spring flowers? Tulips, Crocuses, Snowdrops, Alliums, Scillas, Daffodils or Narcissus

Daffodils need extra mulching and protection for our harsh winter climates but are very doable bulbs to grow in the Peace Country.

Early to late September is the perfect time to get those spring (early May color) bulbs into the ground before the ground gets frozen.  Bulbs need time to take in nutrients and sprout good root growth and get themselves established before freeze-up. If you want to plant bulbs into October, remember to place them a couple of inches deeper than indicated to protect them.

One of the hardest jobs is to decide which bulbs to plant, tulips and daffodils have an abundant selection to choose from.

Harsh winters do take a toll on some bulbs (as do squirrels or rabbits) so we recommend – plant more not less.  To make a Spring WOW statement, plant bulbs in groups, placing them with other bulbs or in between your perennials, herbs, strawberries, hostas, bulbs bloom first so they will not hinder the growth of other later blooming plants. Bulbs usually come back each year so you only have to plant them once (if it is a harsh winter or they get thawed and frozen a couple times because of the weather they might not come back).  If you do not like the location or grouping, you can always move bulbs around.

To plant bulbs – pick a sunny spot in your garden, dig down 6-8” and place your bulb in with the sharp end up, throw in a bit of Myke or a bit of bone meal and cover them up. Water well – bulbs covered in ice for the winter will preserve the best.

Then wait for Spring – planting bulbs is easy!  Need more info, please come in and talk to us here at Dunvegan, we love to talk gardens!