NGA Articles: Family Pumpkin Projects

Family Pumpkin Projects (cont)

By: Charlie Nardozzi

Paint & Decorate Pumpkins

For younger children who shouldn't be handling sharp knives, painting and decorating pumpkins is an engaging option. Select waterproof markers or paints. Young children will find markers easy to work with, while older children will like the freedom of using paints. To give kids a variety of decorating options, gather a selection of glow-in-the-dark paint, stickers, glue, and natural materials -- ornamental grass heads, contorted twigs, and small carrots. Use pumpkins of various shapes, sizes, and colors. Even butternut or other winter squash can be used to add some variety.

Make sure the pumpkins are at room temperature before painting. Cold pumpkins tend to sweat, and the paint could run. Consider tipping the pumpkin on its side so the stem becomes the nose. Young kids will have fun completing the face. Once the paint dries, spray the pumpkins with an acrylic spray to make the colors stand out and make the pumpkin last longer.

Make Pies and Roast Seeds

Of course you can make delicious breads, cookies, and pies from the leftover pumpkin pulp, but don't forget the seeds. You can make a delicious and nutritious snack for kids by roasting pumpkin seeds in the oven. Here's how:

Remove the seeds from the pulp by running the mixture under cold water. Pat the seeds dry with a towel. Preheat the oven to 300&deg F. Combine 1 tablespoon of oil or melted butter plus 1/2 teaspoon salt per cup of seeds. If you like, you can add other spices like pepper, paprika, and garlic. Toss seeds with the oil mixture until well coated. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet and bake until golden, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool on paper towels.

For more on growing and harvesting pumpkins, go to the Virtual Vegetable Guides at

Question of the Week

Hastening Brussels Sprouts Development

Q. I love growing Brussels sprouts but the sprouts are always small. How can I get them to grow larger?

A. Brussels sprouts grow best in areas with cool summers and mild winters -- they are a long-season crop whose growing season often gets cut short in northern gardens. One technique that may help your sprouts size up is to prune off the leafy top of the plant in late summer so the plant directs its energy to the sprouts rather than to growing taller. Some growers also have success removing the lower leaves, so sunlight will reach the developing sprouts.

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