DIY and latest topics
DIY and latest topics
Do you know that pumpkins come in lots of colors besides orange? It’s true! There are are green, yellow, red, white, blue, striped, and even tan pumpkins.
Before a Jack O’Lantern pumpkin matures it starts off green and comes in all sizes from very small to gigantic (mostly grown for competition). Casper and Baby Boo are common varieties of white pumpkins (still have orange flesh inside).
Blue pumpkins like the Australian Blue Pumpkin, also known as Jaradale, are rare and look somewhat like a turban with a very wrinkly skin. The Rouge D’Etant is a red pumpkin and resembles Cinderella’s coach in red. It is reputed to be the pumpkin served at the first Thanksgiving dinner between the pilgrims and Native Americans.
If you eat canned pumpkin, you are most likely eating a tan pumpkin. These are grown specifically for the canning industry.
Major Types of Pumpkins
The two major types of pumpkins are pie pumpkins and carving pumpkins (Jack-o-Lanterns).
Some of the most popular pie pumpkins are Amish Pie, Baby Pam, Small Sugar Pumpkin or New England Pie Pumpkin. When baking pies or using pumpkin in muffins or other recipes, the pie pumpkin is preferable as its taste is smoother and sweeter than carving pumpkins and flesh is denser. Look for a pumpkin that weighs about four to eight pounds. Lumina, a white pumpkin, has a ghostly white shell, but the flesh is still bright orange. Some other good eating varieties are
Pumpkins For Carving
There are hundreds of varieties of pumpkins and when selecting carving pumpkins, also known as Jack O’Lanterns, look for a variety that sits flat and is balanced. These pumpkins were designed for easier carving with a thinner shell and less stringy flesh inside. They also have more water content than pie pumpkins. Some Jack O’Lantern varieties are Big Rock, Charisma, Cotton Candy (white), Howden, Howden Biggie, and Rock Star.
If you want to have the best, most nutritious compost for your garden, start by composting all the leaves that are falling now. Leaf compost is one of the most beneficial items you can put in your garden. Use oak leaves sparingly as they take longer to decompose.
You can place leaves in bins, in a pile, or in a line at the back of the yard. The key to a successful compost pile is air and moisture. Start with a layer of small sticks and branches that fall from the trees. This allows air into the bottom of the pile.
It is essential to shred the leaves with a shredder, mower, or in a garbage can with a string trimmer. Smaller pieces decompose faster. Add a 6 to 8-inch layer of shredded leaves over the sticks. Next add a 1-inch layer of soil. You will need to add nitrogen, so the next layer could be grass clippings, well-aged manure or up to one cup of high nitrogen fertilizer like urea per pile.
It is not necessary to add food scraps to a leaf compost pile, but adding coffee grounds, banana peels, and other vegetable scraps will add additional nitrogen. Just keep adding layers of leaves, and a small layer of soil until it is the height you want it. Don’t use more than a total of one cup of nitrogen fertilizer for the entire pile. Three feet is the ideal height. More than that will slow down the process.
Tossing the Pile
Tossing the pile periodically will put more air into the pile and mix up the already composted material at the bottom with the top layers. It’s important to keep the pile moist, so if you don’t have any snow or rain, you might want to give it some water. Too much water is as much a problem as too little. If you have a particularly wet spell, you might want to cover the pile with a tarp.
You can also place shredded leaves in yard litter bags, water them well, close the bags and put holes in the bags to allow air and moisture in. Place the bags on their sides at the back of the yard and wait for the results in spring.
If you want to build a wooden cold frame, here is how to do it. Selecting a covering for your cold frame will determine the size. Windows are the best because they can hold up under the heavy snow load. Next might be a translucent plastic in a frame that you build.
For our purposes, we are going to use two windows that are each 27X24 inches. The cold frame is going to be 54X24 inches so the windows will cover the top of the frame. You will need 2 pieces of lumber 2X10X10 and 1 piece 1X2.
The first layer of the cold frame should be buried in the ground 4-6 inches. Cut two 54- inch boards for the front and back of the first layer. Cut two 21-inch pieces for the end boards. Screw them together with 3 inch deck screws, three in each end. The 21 inch boards will go inside the front and back boards. Dig a trench the length and width of your cold frame and place the frame you just build into the ground and fill in around it. For a deeper cold frame, add a second box on top of the first one.
For the top layer, cut one 21-inch section and one 54” section. Lay the 21-inch section out on a flat surface and draw a line from one corner to the other on a diagonal. Cut on the line to create the slanted pieces for the sides. Attach the slanted pieces to the base with a screw in the top of the lowest portion of the slant. Line them up with the sides of the base box.
Next, attach the back 54-inch piece to the sides, placing screws from the back into the high side pieces. Screw a piece of 1X2 into the back corners inside to secure the two layers.
Adding the Top
Add hinges to your window frame(s) at the back and a handle on top. Place a good layer of compost or enriched potting soil into the frame and you’re ready to plant lettuce, kale, spinach, radishes, or any other vegetables that don’t mind colder temperatures.
Reseeding when your first crop is finished will give you fresh vegetables all winter long. Be sure to place the slant of your cold frame facing south to get the most sun.
For more on building cold frames, see http://gardenmentors.com/garden-help/gardening-guidelines/garden-construction-coach-on-how-to-build-a-cold-frame/
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