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Do you know what to do with the Great Pumpkin? Master Gardeners share suggestions for success: Ask an expert

Do you know what to do with the Great Pumpkin? Master Gardeners share suggestions for success: Ask an expert

Ask an Expert is an online question-and-answer tool that assists Oregon State University Extension students in answering questions within two business days, usually less. To answer a question, go to the, enter it in and include the county where you live.

Q: I live in Marion County and am attempting for a second year to grow pumpkins in my raised bed.

Any suggestions? Should I transplant an already established plant? Any suggestions on the timing and timing of the fertilizer. Marion County

A: You didn't mention how many vines you planted last year, but my first suggestion is to have some if you have space. They may be hampered out of the raised beds and intertwine if needed.

Be careful about fertilizing; too much nitrogen will create a lot of foliage at the expense of flowers.

The male flowers begin to open before the female flowers, so patience is required. As you may already know, the female flowers have a large ovary on the stem just below the bloom while the males have only a single stalk. The attached photo shows the hand-pollination process which is a fool-proof way of ensuring the female flowers are pollinated.

The OSU Extension Service

If you are hand-pollinating, it shouldnt really be important to be careful.

If you want to get a jump on the season, start pumpkins indoors right now. Keep the seeds warm and have lots of light. Keep the lights on for 14 hours per day

Pumpkins are sensitive to cold weather in both the air and the soil, so it isn't worth taking them outdoors. A soil thermometer costs only a few dollars and is a good investment. Soil temperatures are much more reliable than calendar dates. (More about this in the links below.)

If you have a healthy soil that has been enhanced with organic matter over several years, you should be able to get by by by adding mature compost in three or four times during the year. Spread it on the surface of the soil (ie. dont till it in.).

If you do get a soil test, this will help you determine how much fertilizer to use.

mulches are recommended to maintain soil moisture and temperatures, but it works well, too. Straw, woodchips or black plastic are all common.

The following is a link to a document that should be addressed in the most sensitive way possible. (Please note that it is from Cornell University in New York, so the suggested cultivars may not apply to Oregon.)

Suggested pumpkin varieties for Oregon can be found.

The following is about growing giant pumpkins, but it includes a number of strategies that might be helpful.

What do you do if your garden bed is used as a cat box?OSU Extension Service

Q: While outside today, we noticed a fairly recent hole in one of them, sometime in the last week I would assume, and found a pile of cat feces.

Do we need to remove the dirt in the garden box? Is there anything we can add to the soil?

Many people in a gardening organization I am a part of say to remove the feces and the dirt around it, but I want to make sure we are doing the right thing to keep our family safe this gardening season. We are going to put some chicken wire over the top of the beds to keep the cats out until planting later this year. Marion County

If you happen to be pregnant, you should be careful not to get in contact with the cat feces.

Lynn Marie Sullivan, OSU Extension Master Gardener,

Q: The power company is planning to raise the tree to 14 feet below the wire and 12 feet on the side, which is very close to the trunk. (There are no branches above the wire.)

If i look at the branches, the yearly growth appears to be 3 to 4 inches.

A tree that was pruned by the round over method in a recent article on a forestry project is about to be bleak.

A: You are correct in observing that the wrong pruning method may not be helpful for trees, especially those that have not had regular pruning to preserve their shape, health, and productivity. However, pruning using correct techniques is actually beneficial for all these factors, according to the author of articles 7.

So long as these precepts are followed (by either the power company or your arborist), there is no reason to believe the trees health will be compromised. However, some pruning is necessary to construct a strong, healthy tree, according to the above article.

TrilliumOSU Extension Service from Native Oregon

Is this a giant wake robin, or a large white, or Pacific trillium? Lane County

A: Our native trillium with a flower that is borne on a stalk rather than right against the leaves. There are a variety of common names for this, such as Pacific trillium or western trillium, but as in many cases, the same common name may often be used for multiple species, so they are not so reliable. James Mickley, OSU Herbarium curator

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