Halloween is only a few days away and most people will be getting ready to carve their pumpkins to create spooktacular effects. Horticulturist Pariac Horkan talks to Ireland Am’s Ciara about growing pumpkins, alternative ways to decorate them and what we should be planting now to add some colour to the garden.
Pumpkin is a fruit which can contain up to 500+ seeds. While most people throw these away, Paraic suggests saving them to plant your own pumpkins or they can be toasted in the oven as a healthy snack. When removing the seeds from the pumpkin, remove any pulp from the seed and dry for a day or two before placing in a dry brown bag in the fridge. These seeds can be sown from January to March before moving outdoors in May.
When carving pumpkins you need a sharp knife and while most people stick to a traditional jack o lantern, Paraic has brought in a few different pumpkins styles. You can scrap the skin off parts of the pumpkin and use the different colour of the inside of the flesh to create different effects. For example it helps to the eyes of this owl pumpkin and then the dried pumpkin seeds can be used to create eyebrows. Tea lights can be used to light your pumpkin but battery operated lights are ideal as they don’t blow out in the wind and are safer, especially with younger children in the house.
Paraic also suggests carving a Gourd, which is a variety from the pumpkin family. This has a different texture and shape that can be used to create a different effect. These look particularly good with small holes all around the Gourd. These can be easily created with a drill and battery operated LED lights can be pushed through these holes for an added effect.
Paraic and Ciara also discuss what can be planted now to add some great colour to your garden, window boxes, pots and containers. The Solanum (Christmas Cherry) and Winter Capsicum is perfect for adding autumn colour. Paraic also recommends berry producing shrubs, for example the Callicarpa shrub, as the birds do not eat the berries and it will stay in colour until March. Also you can plant foliage plants, such as Nandina or Skimmia for gorgeous autumnal into winter colour.