Saving pumpkin seeds
I would like to save seeds from Amish Pie Pumpkins we plan to grow this summer. I bought a packet this year (at a big box hardware store) and it has only 2 seeds in it! (so $1 and 10½ cents per seed, ouch!) Anyway, what can I do to keep them from crossing with all the other cucurbits we grow? (zucchini/yellow squash/pickle cukes/Jack o Lantern and Cinderella pumpkins/Jack Be Littles plus mixed gourds) Is it hopeless to get save-able seeds that just might grow true? I know people use baggies and whatnot on corn, but being insect pollinated, what can I do about pumpkins?
East Bethany, New York
Pumpkins and squash will not cross with cucumbers. However the three commonly grown species of squash and pumpkins will cross. The three commonly grown species of squash/pumpkins are: C. pepo (often summer squash, some pumpkins, and some squash), C. maxima (often winter squash and larger pumpkins/Jack O’ Lanterns) and C. moschata (some winter squash such as butternut.) If you plant two or more of the same species, they will cross unless you prevent it by either growing only one of each species or hand-pollinating some of the blossoms and marking those blossoms so you can save seed from only the hand-pollinated ones. Amish Pie Pumpkins are C. maximas so they won’t cross with summer squash, gourds, or other Cucurbitas of other species. Hand-pollinating squash/pumpkins is not hard. Early in the morning, take a male flower that is just opening, tear off the petals, then rub the pollen onto the stigma, the raised orange portion of the female blossom. It is important to be able to tell the male from female blossoms. The male blossoms have a long stem and only a flower. The female flowers have a tiny squash or pumpkin just beneath the blossom. Pollinate only freshly-opened female flowers to ensure no insects have been there before you. Then tie the blossom closed to keep insects out; they could possibly carry pollen into the flower. Hand-pollinate several blossoms and loosely tie a marker to each stem so you’ll know which pumpkins/squash are purebred and not crossed. The crossed squash/pumpkins will still look like the seed you bought but will not produce true next year, where the hand-pollinated fruits are pure and will be good candidates for seed saving. — Jackie
Burning garden debris
Is it too late to burn the garden debris on the garden? We have had such wet weather and HIGH winds that we have not been able to burn. Should we just haul it off this year?
Yes, I’d just haul it off this year but if you have an insect or disease problem I’d make sure it gets buried or burned off of the garden to reduce possible problems this year. — Jackie
Runny egg whites
We have 6 red sexlink chickens for eggs and they are great layers. The problem is: When we boil the eggs the whites are not nice and firm, but mushy and the texture is not suitable for deviled eggs which we like to make for company. We are feeding them oyster shells, layer pellets and chicken scratch. What might we be doing wrong?
Earl & Diane Weber
Sometimes this is caused by a winter lack of protein in the diet. Why don’t you try just feeding the layer pellets or adding a cheap dry cat food to their feed to substitute for the bugs they would be eating if it were summer instead of winter. Do the egg whites set up if you fry them? If so, why not try adding a tablespoon of salt to the water before boiling the eggs? I’ve heard that people correct the mushy whites that way as the salt raises the boiling water temperature and causes the whites to set up better. Any readers with other ideas? — Jackie