The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

Taking kids to a pumpkin patch – What better way to enjoy a crisp October Saturday then a trip to a local pumpkin patch where the kids can go on a hayride and pick out their own pumpkin? Make the day unforgettable by stopping at McDonald’s for a meal and then spend time carving out a jack-o’-lantern. Make sure the kids help with the carving and scooping process. If you can’t make it to a pumpkin patch, many churches and organizations sell pumpkins for fundraising projects and they enjoy helping kids pick out pumpkins.

Carving or painting faces on pumpkins – Pumpkin decorating is fun for kids as well as adults. With pumpkins coming in all sizes, shapes, and colors you can carve faces on pumpkins such as rabbits, cats, dogs, tigers in orange, black and white. You can add details such as ears, nose, etc. Use acrylic paint and a permanent black marker to sketch the design on the pumpkin and then color it with acrylic paints. When you carve out a jack-o’-lantern, use one of the carving kits with all the tools and scoop with blade accessories to make the job fun and easy. Use a black permanent marker to design the face before carving. Use the votive fat candles for more light and greater stability, plus they last a lot longer. Painted pumpkins have one plus and that is that after Halloween, the pumpkin can be peeled, cooked and made into pies. Speaking of pumpkin pies, even the painted type pumpkins can be then used for pies after Halloween.

Using apples to promote ripening of late, late tomatoes – As you harvest the late, late, green tomatoes before the first frost, use several apples placed around the tomatoes that have been wrapped in newspaper sheets and boxed. The apples produce ethylene gas that encourages green tomatoes to ripen in darkness of the newspaper wrappers.

October is truly a season of blazing brightness and color – Against the backdrop of a Carolina blue sky, the colors of red, yellow, burgundy, golden light green leaves contrast with pines and cedars as well as climbing honeysuckle vines for a blaze of bright color and brightness on crisp autumn afternoons. The goldenrod’s are at their peak and add extra glow to the beauty of autumn.

Hershey autumn wrapped Kisses, candy corn, cream pumpkins, Harvest M&Ms are the sweets of autumn – Every season has its own delights ranging from chocolates on Valentines, candy canes, dark chocolate drops, hard Christmas candy, and bonbons at Christmas, hot cross buns with Easter. Autumn brings the old fashion candy corn, a staple in America for well over 100 years, Hershey harvest wrapped Kisses and cream pumpkins. Candy corn has added the Indian corn and colors of brown, orange, white combo and Brach has added brown sugar flavor for more variety. All these varieties add color to displays for the kitchen table or coffee table.

Frost on the pumpkins – It is said that frost will kill the pumpkin, but sweeted the turnup. This is very much the truth because turnips are a root crop. In about 10 more days, we can expect some frost. Even though frost may sweeten turnips, it is a good idea to cover the rows with a layer of crushed leaves to protect from a hard freeze later on. Pumpkins are safe because most of American pumpkins are grown in the Midwest and have already been harvested.

Staying ahead of the harvest of leaves – The colorful leaves of autumn are beginning to fall on the lawn and garden. Don’t let them go to waste but use them for compost, leaf mulch or a blanket for cool weather vegetables. Stay ahead of leaves by raking, blowing, or vacuuming them and applying a layer around newly planted spring bulbs, shrubs, bushes and add to compost pile or bin.

Preparing the rose bushes for winter – There are still some roses blooming even in mid-October. Now is the time to give some care to the roses and prepare them for the winter ahead. Remove all dead canes and pull off spent roses and hips. Check foliage for leaf mites and insect pests and spray. Apply a shot of liquid miracle grow fertilizer and cover base of rose bushes with a layer of crushed leaves.

Making a quickie pumpkin pound cake – A pumpkin pound cake adds a lot of taste to a meal on a crisp October evening and this recipe is easy to make. In a mixing bowl add one box of butter pecan cake mix, one 3 ounce box of Jell-O instant butterscotch putting mix, four eggs, half cup of brown sugar, 1 16 ounce can pumpkin, 1 cup flour, 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, 1 cup of milk, half cup of Crisco oil, and a pinch of salt. Mix all ingredients and pour into a tube pan sprayed with Baker’s Joy. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Check for doneness by placing fingers on top of cake, if it springs back, it’s done. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Checking out the row or bed of turnips – As mid-October moves closer, the turnip should be starting to develop. Check around base of the leaves and see if any turnips are ready to harvest. The first turnips may be smaller, but thin them out so the other turnips will be longer. Peel and boil them until you can stick a knife through them, drain most of water from them, add a stick of light margarine, salt and pepper and mash family with a potato masher. If turnips are too bitter, add sugar or Caro white syrup.

A bowl of fun brew for Halloween – To make a punch bowl of Halloween fun, mix one 2 liter of orange Fanta, one 2 liter bottle of Cheerwine, and one bottle of Mountain Dew in the punch bowl and fill bowl with crushed ice or ice cubes.

Ray Baird