Shortly after Independence Day fireworks, it’s time to start thinking about another holiday – Halloween.
In the Sacramento area, the biggest Halloween pumpkins are traditionally planted the week of July Fourth. (That means now!) The variety with the most success for growing mammoth squash is Dill’s Atlantic Giant, which reliably produces 400- to 500-pound pumpkins.
To get record-breaking dimensions, a giant pumpkin needs a lot of water, fertilizer and space. The current world record is 2,624.6 pounds, set last October in Germany.
Even if you’re aiming for “just” a hundred pounder, a mature pumpkin vine needs at least 20 gallons of water twice a week. After dark is when pumpkins grow, adding as much as 2 inches of diameter a night.
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▪ If your melons and squash aren’t setting fruit, give the bees a hand. With a small, soft paintbrush, gather some pollen from male flowers, then brush it inside the female flowers, which have a tiny swelling at the base of their petals (that’s the embryo melon or squash). Within days, that little swelling should start growing.
▪ It’s not too late to get a few more veggies in the ground. Plant seeds for corn, beans, okra, parsnips, summer and winter squash, and watermelon.
▪ Prune spring-flowering shrubs now, then leave them alone as they start to set next year’s buds. Non-blooming hedges also can be trimmed.
▪ Remove spent flowers from roses and other shrubs so they will continue blooming throughout the summer into fall.
▪ Do your camellia or azalea leaves look yellow? That may be sign of an iron deficiency. Apply some chelated iron.