It has been so interesting to see what people have done with pumpkins this season. I didn’t have time to carve a pumpkin, so I opted for two beaded pumpkins found years ago in an antique store. They graced the turquoise pots near the driveway.
When my four children were growing up in Stillwater, we always had a pumpkin decorating contest. Of course, each child received a blue ribbon for “the best pumpkin ever!”
Pumpkins have always intrigued me. They are definitely a squash that has the potential for numerous personalities, depending on the age of the person decorating them. So I’m going to grow my own for next year’s Halloween and other fall festivities.
Here are the best tips for growing and harvesting these bright orange beauties.
• Choose your seeds and plant in full sun areas in rows 6-10 feet apart or in hills 4-8 feet apart.
• Mulch the beds and keep hydrated consistently.
• Tamp down weeds and water daily with 1 inch of water per plant.
• There’s no need to prune the vines.
• Use an all purpose vegetable garden fertilizer.
• Before planting, decide if you are growing for your family’s enjoyment or trying to win a prize for the biggest pumpkin on the block.
• Don’t plant too close together. Pumpkins like “their own bed.”
• Cover your plants at the start of the season and use floating row covers.
• Watch out for pumpkins’ enemies — squash bugs, squash vine borers and cucumber beetles.
• Burpee Seeds says “Always harvest your pumpkins before a frost.”
• When the pumpkins turn bright orange, they are ready for plucking from the garden.
• Test the soil where you plant pumpkins every few years.
Just for fun. You might want to visit any of the three pumpkin farms in Oklahoma: Carmichael’s in Bixby, Carmichael’s Tour Farms in Tulsa and Immanuel Youth Pumpkin Patch in Broken Arrow.
I love the preface to Linda Vater’s new book, “The Elegant & Edible Garden.”
She writes: “My garden passion started with a pumpkin seed planted by a spent jack-o-lantern from the previous autumn’s Halloween,“ Vater writes.
She was about 8 and was enchanted with a sticky vine with huge leaves.
“I had no idea what it was, but it seemed wonderfully strange and exotic…it seemed like a miracle out of a storybook,” she wrote.
Micki J. Shelton is a Muskogee native and master gardener.