Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

October, 2001
Regional Report

Toast, Don\'t Toss, Jack-o\'-Lantern Seeds

Toast--don\'t toss--your pumpkin seeds when you carve your jack-o\'-lantern. Separate the seeds from the stringy pulp by washing the seeds well. Spread them on a cookie sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt if desired. Toast them for three or four minutes at 375 degrees F, stir, and toast another two or three minutes until they\'re evenly golden. Cool them to room temperature, and enjoy!

When to Harvest Pumpkins

Harvest winter squash, pumpkins, and decorative gourds when the vines are dry and the rinds are hard and resist easy puncture by a fingernail. Cut the stems, rather than breaking or tearing them, and leave two inches of stem attached to the squash to lessen the chance of spoilage. Gourds will dry more quickly if you drill a small hole at each end. Let them cure in a dry, well-ventilated area at room temperature for two weeks. Store cured squash at 50 to 60 degrees F in a dry area. Check them weekly for mold. If any appears, wipe it off with a paper towel moistened with vinegar. Squash should keep up to six months.

Snip and Feed Roses

Trim roses after their last flush of blooms, but hold off on severe pruning until they\'re fully dormant, in January. Feed them with a no-nitrogen, high-phosphorus, high-potassium fertilizer to help them harden off.

Provide Last Watering and Feeding for Overwintering Plants

Give one last deep watering to grapevines and deciduous trees to make them more cold-hardy. Feed all overwintering plants with a no-nitrogen, high-phosphorus, high-potassium fertilizer to help maximize their cold-hardiness.

Move Container Plants

Move container plants next to--but not touching--a fence or wall so plants absorb reflected daytime heat and are shielded from winds over the winter. For container plants that go dormant over the winter, move them under awning so they don\'t drown with winter rains.


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