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June 5, 2007 > The great pumpkin

The great pumpkin

By Pat Kite

You may start your pumpkins now. Perhaps you don't want to set a new size record and grow a 1600-pound pumpkin. Last year's record, coming from Rhode Island, was a mere 1502 pounds. After snacking at a food festival, I can beat that standing on the bathroom scale on one foot. Besides, who today has that type of space in the Tri-City Area? Or the sun needed to keep a big pumpkin thriving? Not I, surrounded by two-story home, fences and towering junipers.

But there are oodles of designer-type pumpkins, made just for small yard and patio people, like us. Some people poke in pumpkin seeds just for the kids or grandkids. In today's environmentally challenged world, children are amazed that food actually grows someplace besides supermarket "organic" racks. But even without youngsters available, you can grow pumpkins just for you. Not just because they are rather easy, but also because we grown-up persons sometimes just like see personal accomplishment after a grueling day.

Perusing my ample seed catalogues, here are just a few of the current choices: orange, white and striped types. From Territorial Seed Company, <>: Baby Boo, Jack be Little, Snackjack, Fairytale, Full Moon, Small Sugar, Cinderella, Magic Lantern, Lumina, Wyatt's Wonder, Howden, and Dill's Atlantic Giant. From Thompson & Morgan- <>: Hooligan F1 Hybrid, Mars F1 Hybrid, One Too Many, Ghost F1 Hybrid. From Seed Savers Exchange, <>, American Tonda, Cornfield Pumpkin, Cheyenne Bush, Long Island Cheese, Galeux d'Esyines, and others. And, of course, your local garden center and area supermarket have several varieties of seed packets available instantly.

What do you need to do besides spending about $2 to $3 on a seed packet containing eight to 25 seeds? Let's just deal with the small pumpkins, such as the 2-inch white Baby Boo, the 3-inch mottled Hooligan F1 Hybrid or the 4-inch orange Jack be Little. These you can poke into a large pot or two. Fill the quite large pots with potting mix/compost with some manure stirred in. Pumpkins grow on both bushes and vines, so don't fill to the top. They will need room to drape. Tuck seed in, one-inch deep. Pots must be in sunny space. I have tried to grow them in mostly sun, but get a lot of happy leaves and no pumpkins. Use only one or two seeds per pot.

Water soil until moist, not pond. Observe daily. I always talk to my plants, but you might prefer singing. Bright green leaves will emerge in a week or so. Yellow flowers will eventually show up. Fertilize. Do not let soil dry out. The yellow flowers, with luck, will give you pumpkins in about 100 days. If this gets you really excited, check out the World Pumpkin Confederation at <>. Catalogue available by mail and pumpkin tales too.

READER QUESTIONS [all questions answered only here]:

Ruth asked about my gardenia. It is still struggling. I just moved it to a more protected spot. Gardenias are tough to grow around here.

Wanda asked about locating a small pink lavender. I checked Regan's, one of my favorite garden hunt sites. Not there, but they once ordered for me. Also, you could call Alden Lane Nursery and ask. There is a Lavandula stoechas "With Love," called a "pink Spanish lavender," compact with clear pink flowers, listed in the Forest Farm catalogue: <>, tel: 541-846-7269. My Lavender book also mentions dwarf English lavenders "Hidcote Pink," "Rosea," "Loddon Pink" and "Jean Davis." Lavender names tend to double up on each other, which can be confusing, but this is a good start. I love lavenders and they thrive in Tri-City clay soil and sun. Good Luck!

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