Pumpkin Carving and Preserving

The Jack-o-lanterns of today would not be recognized by those who introduced them to this country. According to Irish legend, Stingy Jack bargained with the Devil and won. The Devil took his revenge by forcing him to wander with only a turnip lantern to guide him.

The Jack-o-lantern today has evolved from only slightly scary to whimsical and even sculptural masterpieces. There are no rules as to what a Jack-o-lantern should be other than “Do you like it?” However, there are guidelines as to which pumpkin is best for which style, and tips on how to carve and lengthen the usable life of the pumpkin.

The best Jack-o-lantern pumpkins are mid-size, smooth thin-skinned, but firm for ease of carving and easier to clean out. Pie pumpkins and Carving pumpkins are interchangeable both for carving and eating; the only difference is pie-type is smaller. Mid-sized range from 8-12 pounds and larger 15-35 pounds. The big ones are harder to carve but dramatic.

Half of the fun of carving your own is selecting it at a pumpkin farm. Ask the staff for the best carving varieties.

Before purchasing, decide on the design and size needed. Inspect the pumpkin for intact stem and no bruises, soft spots or other damage. If hollow sounding when thumped, it is ripe.

Sanitation is important as the pumpkin has a maximum lifespan of 7 days. Before carving, clean tools and hands. Wipe the skin with bleach and cut a hole in the bottom to clean it out. Never carry by its stem, as a broken stem opens the pumpkin up to bacteria. Keep out of direct sun and in a cool location. Wipe out the inside and cut areas with bleach. Use battery-operated candles or flashlights inside instead of live flame. If it starts to shrivel or show mold, soak the pumpkin in bleach water (2 tablespoons per gallon) for a couple of hours

Enjoy your custom Jack-o-lantern and take pictures.

~ by Carolyn Roof

Kids Day 2019

The Kids Day at the Arboretum on Monday, July 19, was a huge success according to Joanna Kirby, Chair of the third annual event. Kirby said, ‘Without support of so many, it would not have been the most successful to date. Support came from the Library and Kentucky Bank; Kentucky Department of Forestry; and Paris residents. In addition, the Bourbon County Council of Garden Clubs, Painted Hills Garden Club(Morehead), and many The Garden Club of Kentucky members from all over the state.”

The theme for the day was “The Environment.” It began at the Paris-Bourbon County Library, where Deb Horn coordinated the visit of Smoky Bear and Ranger Phillip Horsely, who showed “A Day in the Forest with Smoky” in celebration of the bear’s 75th birthday. Horn and assistants joined in the activities at the Nannine Clay Wallis Arboretum, where they sponsored stenciling leaves on a tree-decorated T-shirts.

At the Nannine Clay Wallis Arboretum, Kara Sayles, who is the Bluegrass Greensource, Environmental Educator and Rain Garden Project Coordinator, explained the importance of water through selected planting and collecting rain water for our plants. The children joined in watering plants from the rain barrel.

Dee Larking, Bluegrass Greensource Environmental Educator, delighted the children who held red crawler worms while she told the children how worms helped break down plant waste and improve the soil.

Kentucky State Apiarist-Department of Agriculture, Tammy Horn Potter, brought a demonstration hive with active bees, suits for the children to try on, honey, and other bee-related items.

Hydroponics were demonstrated by Dee Biebighauser as the children identified water critters and were shown how to grow their own plants in water. Biebighauser also chaired the day’s activities and coordinated Painted Hills Garden Club members who were in charge of each of the ten activities.

Once again, this year the Kentucky Bank supplied the much-needed water bottles for all at the Arboretum. The Bourbon Council of Garden Clubs members provided a free lunch for all of the nearly 140 children, also supervisors and activities workers.