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Vermont Garden Journal: Get Creative With Your Pumpkin Decorations This Halloween

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For Halloween this year try different pumpkin varieties for your decorations.

It will be Halloween soon and kids, young and old, will be carving pumpkins for the big event. Halloween decorating almost rivals Christmas for the amount of money spent and the elaborate displays created.

While carving your classic orange, round jack-o'-lantern pumpkin variety, such as 'Howden', might be a family tradition, this year, get a little more creative with your decorating. Certainly you can use carving kits or paint your pumpkin instead, but an easier way to get a spooky effect is to carve some unusual pumpkin varieties.

Not all pumpkins are orange. 'Lumina' and 'Polar Bear' are white skinned pumpkins that add a ghostly glow when carved and lit. Not all pumpkins are large. 'Jack Be Little' and Baby Boo' are miniature pumpkins that are more intricate to carve, but make fun table decorations. Not all pumpkins are smooth skinned. 'Knucklehead' and 'Red Warty Thing' are large pumpkins with warty skin. It's easy making these pumpkins spooky since they already have warts. Not all pumpkins for carving are pumpkins. The blue skinned 'Jarrahdale', flat, red skinned 'Cinderella' and 'Turk's Turban' winter squash are fun to look at and can be carved into unusual faces. Look for these, and other unusual pumpkins and winter squash, at farm stands and garden centers.

Whatever the pumpkin or squash you're carving, here are some tips to make it last longer. Cut out the back, not the top, of the pumpkin to remove the seeds and flesh. Soak the carved pumpkin overnight, in a pail of water with a few teaspoons of bleach to disinfect it. After the pumpkin dries, rub petroleum jelly on the cuts so they don't dehydrate quickly.

Now for this week's tip: sprinkle crushed stone dust or seashells in holes when planting tulips, crocus and other bulbs mice, voles and chipmunks love to eat. The sharp edges and dustiness of these materials will deter them from tunneling into your bulb bed.

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