Upper South

October, 2005
Regional Report

Choosing a Pumpkin

When choosing a pumpkin for a jack-o'-lantern, look for one that is fairly light in weight for its size, as it will have less flesh and be easier to carve. Also, look for one that is somewhat flat on the bottom so it will sit up well. For best keeping quality, choose a pumpkin with a stem. Pumpkins have the longest shelf life if kept between 50 and 60 degrees F. Don't carve them until just before Halloween, and remember to save the seeds for roasting.

Saving Root Crops

Leave root crops, such as beets, turnips, parsnips, and carrots, in the ground and cover with a thick layer of straw or hay. Protected this way, they can be dug as needed during the winter. An alternative is to carefully dig the roots, brush off loose soil, and store in dampened peat moss or sawdust in a wooden box in a cool, humid room.

Making Natural Fall Decorations

Decorate your home inside and out for the fall season with ornamental gourds, Indian corn, and cornstalks. If you've grown your own gourds, harvest when the stem of the fruit starts to dry, taking care not to bruise. Allow them to dry for a week or so in a warm, dry place, then wax and polish them. The surface can be smoothed with steel wool if the gourds are going to be painted or stained. Tie dried cornstalks into bunches to decorate a porch or entryway, and hang a bunch of Indian corn on the front door.

Bring Houseplants Indoors

Watch weather reports carefully to make sure summering houseplants are brought indoors before frost. While still outside, check over all plants, repot as necessary, cut off dead leaves, and spray both upper and lower leaf surfaces and stems with a houseplant spray, such as pyrethrum or insecticidal soap. Check the plants at least once a week for signs of any pests, and treat as soon as possible so the pests don't spread.

Living With Asian Lady Beetles

With cooler weather come Asian lady beetles looking for a warm, sunny spot to hibernate through the winter. Light-colored buildings and walls in full sun attract them the most. The beetles enter homes through cracks and crevices, windows, and open doors. They do not reproduce indoors, and they do not feed on people, although they may pinch exposed skin. Do not smash them, as they leave a stain. Vacuuming is the best control indoors. To prevent their unwanted entry, caulk exterior gaps and cracks.

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