What do a ghost, a ninja, Batman, Superman, a Ninja Turtle and a dog have in common? These are the possible costumes that my almost 5-year-old has floated for Halloween 2016... In the last week. While I applaud the enthusiasm and imagination, there are still two weeks to go and I look forward to locking this down.
Regardless of what the costume is the, I can always count on the need for a pumpkin or two on the front step. These are my tips on the best way to choose, carve and keep a jack-o-lantern.
1) Patch Picking - Choosing a pumpkin may seem like a small task but find the right size, shape and color is almost as important as choosing a costume. When choosing a pumpkin, find one that is bright orange with no soft spots, cuts or bruises. Make sure it will sit upright on a flat surface. A green stemmed pumpkin is freshly picked and will last awhile, brown stems are not as fresh but will likely still work. Avoid pumpkins with no stem.
2) Put a Lid on It - The most common method of carving begins with cutting a circle in the top to create a lid that can be lifted off by the stem. Cut the lid at an angle so it will nest in the top without falling in. Make it large enough to fit a hand in to place the candle or light. Other options include cutting a hole in the back of the pumpkin or the bottom.
3) Scoop the Goop - Be sure to scoop the entire inside of the pumpkin clean of the pulp and seeds. Use a pumpkin scoop with a serrated edge to easily scrape down to the pale orange inner walls of the pumpkin. Continue to scrap the inside of the 'face' of the pumpkin to make it easier to carve.
4) Making the Cut - Before cutting, use a marker or crayon to draw the face. Washable markers can be wiped clean when finished. Hold the pumpkin in your lap so it looks up at you and you can get a better vantage point for making your cuts. Put away the kitchen knives and use the smaller, detail knives that come in a pumpkin carving kit.
5) Tips and tricks - To keep pumpkins fresh, slather the cut surfaces with Vaseline. Spray the outside of the pumpkin with hot pepper wax to keep squirrels and chipmunks from doing their own carving. Use a pumpkin light instead of candle. Candles produce heat that can cause the pumpkin to rot more quickly.
Everyone looks forward to trick or treating on Halloween night. I can’t wait to see all the smiling and spooky jack-o-lanterns that greet me and my super dog, ninja, batman, ghost, turtle or whatever he finally decides.
Get in the Garden October To-Do List:
1) Protect newly planted trees with Tree wrap and a fresh layer of mulch over the base.
2) Apply a fall fertilizer or winterizer to grass to ensure a quick green-up in the Spring.
3) Plant Fall bulbs now to come up in early spring. The best performers in our area are daffodils, crocus and hyacinth.
4) Bring houseplants indoors as cool weather sets in. Be sure to inspect and treat for any bugs trying to hitchhike indoors.
5) Continue to water new plantings up until the ground freezes. They should be getting one inch of water per week.
6) Decorate your front porch with natural décor like corn stalks, straw bales, pumpkins, squash and more.