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Garden Solutions - October 2015

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Local Blogs - Hillermann Nursery & Florist
Wednesday, 07 October 2015
This month in "Garden Solutions," I am going to focus on trees and pumpkins. Quite a different combination, but both need attention this time of year.

The Many Benefits of Planting Trees
Most often, we plant trees to provide shade and add beauty to our landscape. These are great benefits, but trees also provide many less obvious benefits. Consider all the benefits listed below and remember fall is the perfect time to plant trees for an increased success rate next spring.
• Trees are perfect for planting as living memorials, to remind us of loved ones, or to commemorate significant events in our lives.
• Even though you may own the trees on your property, your neighborhood may benefit from them as well. Through careful planning, trees can be an asset to your entire community.
• Tree lined streets have a traffic calming effect, traffic moves more slowly and safely.
• Trees can be placed to screen unwanted views or noise from busy highways.
• Trees improve our air quality by filtering harmful dust and pollutants such as ozone, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide from the air we breathe.
• Trees give off oxygen that we need to breathe.
• Trees reduce the amount of storm water runoff, which reduces erosion and pollution in our waterways and may reduce the effects of flooding.
• Many species of wildlife depend on trees for habitat. Trees provide food, protection, and homes for many birds and mammals.
• Well-placed trees can reduce your cooling costs in the summer by shading the south and west sides of your home. If deciduous trees are used, they will allow the sun to pass through and warm your home in the winter.
• Evergreen trees on the north side of your home and shrubs around the foundation of your home can act as a windbreak to reduce the cooling effects of winter winds.
• The value of a well landscaped home with mature healthy trees can be as much as 10% higher than a similar home with no or little landscaping. (Topping trees will reduce their value.)

Now, let's change the focus. This is the month for HALLOWEEN!!! What a great and fun time to decorate and enjoy the season with the children of the neighborhood. Here are "Tips for Selecting and Preserving Your Pumpkin."

Selecting a Pumpkin
When selecting a pumpkin for a jack-o-lantern, choose one that does not have any bruises. Check for discoloration and soft spots. The size will not matter, however, to most children and some adults, bigger is better. You can always enlarge your pattern; shrinking a pattern can make the detail work too difficult.

Pumpkins that are more flat and do not roll well work the best. Look for pumpkins with a sturdy stem; this is the sign of a healthy pumpkin. Do not lift or carry the pumpkin by the stem, this can damage it and make it age faster. Check the bottom of the pumpkin to see if the base is damaged. Sometimes the bottom of pumpkins is thin and can get punctured. Then, bad things can grow in them. If the pumpkin feels heavy and sloshes, put it back. I once opened a pumpkin to find the insides had rotted and there was a slimy, smelly, liquid goo left behind.

Preserving and Firming Up a Pumpkin
There are ways to help keep your pumpkin fresher and firmer. If you place a pumpkin in a washtub of cold water, it will absorb the water and become very firm. Cut open the top of the pumpkin and clean out all the seeds. Fill a washtub, sink or large bucket with cold water, and soak the pumpkin in the cold water. If you have fine detail work to do, you may want to let your pumpkin soak overnight. This will firm up the pumpkin flesh and allow you to do carving that is more intricate. You can add a small amount of unscented Clorox bleach in the water to prevent premature mold and bacteria growth.
Once you have carved your pumpkin, you can add a thin amount of petroleum jelly on the exposed cut edges. This will help seal moisture in the flesh of the pumpkin. If the pumpkin dries out, it will shrivel. You can try to revive it by soaking it in a bath of cold water for one to eight hours. Longer is better. Overnight will not hurt.

You can prepare your pumpkins ahead of time and keep them fresh for a future party or gathering. Soak them first. Wrap them in plastic wrap to hold in the moisture and store them in the refrigerator (not the freezer). They will stay fresh this way for a very long time.

Once you remove a wet pumpkin for display, you should immediately dry it off. This prevents mold from having a chance to grow.

Now, enjoy all that the month of October has to offer and I will...

See you in the garden.
Sandi Hillermann McDonald


Articles posted to the Local Blogs section are the opinions of the authors and not necessarily that of or WASHMO Media, LLC.

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