You can grow your holiday pumpkin – But buying’s easier

Star Bulletin
By Gary C.W. Chun

A Hawaiian Halloween may not be complete without a jack-o-lantern, but we haven’t exactly set aside a patch of our gardens to grow pumpkins.

After putting in calls to some garden supply stores around town, it appears we’d rather purchase nice, round pumpkins from our neighborhood supermarkets than bother growing our own. When we do start pumpkins from seeds, they’re generally smaller than commercial pumpkins, more suitable for eating than decorating.

But if you’re thinking ahead to next year and would like to create your own pumpkin patch, it’s best that you use seeds from a packet as opposed to salvaging seeds from your hollowed out pumpkin-cum-jack-o-lantern.

“Some fruits tend to be harvested early, so the seeds that are inside may not be ready to germinate,” cautions Gary Chagami, manager of Wally’s Garden Center. “At least with seed packages, you know how many days it’ll take to maturity and planting.

“Pumpkin seeds are just not one of the better selling seed varieties here locally,” he said. “We buy seeds for more leafy-type vegetables. When it comes to pumpkins, people just buy them whole for carving.”

Aloun Farms, located along the portion of old Farrington Highway connecting Kapolei with Waipahu, has a pumpkin patch where visitors have picked their Halloween pumpkins for three years running.

The farms’ Mike Sou said it’s a way to introduce visitors to the ways of farming, and the pumpkin is ideally suited for Hawaii’s climate. “Hawaii can grow anything,” he said, “except apples.”

While it is possible to get your own pumpkin crop from the seeds that you took from your jack-o-lantern, Sou said “they’re usually special hybrid seeds, where if you used the seeds from the hybrid, it’ll probably not look as nice as the pumpkin you bought, and not good to make a jack-o-lantern. It’ll still make for good eating, though.”

According to Sou, pumpkins expected in time for Halloween can be planted as late as early August. They don’t need any special care, “just some spraying for insects, regular watering and a bit of fertilizer,” he said.

Pumpkins from Aloun Farms will be available for picking from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. They range from 50 cents to $4. The farm is at 94-1440 Farrington Highway. Call 677-9516.

Pumpkin carving contest
For the past 15 years, the Architects Hawaii downtown office has let its staff get creative for Halloween, with an in-house carving competition. And on the 31st, the public can view the results in the lobby of the Bishop Square Pacific Tower.
There will be at least 20 pumpkins, and you’ll get to cast a vote for a People’s Choice winner.

“Our designs aren’t necessarily the traditional jack-o-lantern kinds,” said Architects Hawaii principal Bettina Mehnert. “They’re never really scary but more outlandish, like a submission last year that had two pumpkins, one plain and the other ‘this is your pumpkin on drugs,’ which was pretty ugly! But I suspect there may be some patriotic-designed pumpkins this year.”

Viewing hours on Wednesday will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Don’t stand too close
Blades will fly Monday at the University of Hawai’i School of Architecture, next to Sinclair Library, as students carve into a bath of pumpkins.
Faculty advisor and School of Architecture associate dean Joyce Noe of the UH’s School of Architecture, is expecting 100 pumpkins carved on the spot.

Noe said the competition is called “an esquisse, where the students design something within a limited time.” The carving (no jack-o-lanterns, please!) will begin at 5 p.m., with judging at 7 p.m.

Pumpkins will be donated to the Blood Bank of Hawaii, hospitals and Bishop Museum’s “Treat Street” Wednesday.

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