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Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
June 26, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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June 26, 1997

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16 Thursday, June 26, 1997 Pahrump Valley Gazette ll "You should see the beautiful orange flowers on my pumpkin plant." My friend is excited about her first garden. She w wise to plant sun loving Curcurbitaceae. The vegetable family sometimes called curcurbits in- cludes squash, pumpkins, melons, gourds and cucumbers. Curcurbits, especially watermelons and cantaloupes, love basking in the warmth of our sunny desert skies. The seeds need w ground to germinate and plenty of heat at ripening time. Heat we have. Months of heat. Enough heat to ripen even the large, slow maturing varieties. It takes more than sun to satisfy the curcurbits' lusty appetites. Heavy feeders and hearty drinkers, family mem- bers need rich, fertile soil and a steady supply of water. The secret to success is to add generous amounts of organic material to the soil. If you benefited from "Manure Madness" or raise animals that provide a steady source, adhere to the old adage of a bushel of manure per plant or at let a bucket or two. Iadd meal or super phosphate to encourage a strong root base, about a cup or a handful I also add sulphur, about a half cup for each plant, both to help break up the soil and to lower the pH to the 6.0 to 6.5 curcurbits like. Water, preferably administered slowly and deeply, is essential for the development of their large leaves and succulent fruits. Avoid overhead and too frequent, shallow watering. Cover the soil with several inches of mulch to retain moisture between waterings and to protect the roots from the sun. Curcurbits also like plenty of space. If you don't want the vines to wander at will, gently turn the tips back in the direction they came, and they'll return using half the space. You can also limit the wandering by sniping off the fuzzy tips after the vines have produced a few fruits. Sniping the fuzzy ends and limiting the number of melons, pumpkins or winter squash you leave on each plant allows the plant to concentrate its energies on the fruit rather than vine growth. The fruits will be larger and mature more quickly. When thinning, naturally you select the best fruits, if several are nearly equal always retain the one closest to the plant. Three to five fruits are about the maximum a plant can support. With watermelons and pumpkins one to three fruits is better especially if you want large fruits. If your goal is to raise a big pumpkin for Halloween, eliminate all but the three best fruits. When they are about the size of a soft ball, select the best one and remove the other two. During the grow- ing season, gently turn the pumpkin to keep it from be- coming flat or discolored on one side, and place mulch, a flat piece of wood or some protection between the fruit and the soil to pre- vent yellowing. Once you havc the de- sired number of fruits, pick the new blossoms. You can pick squash and pumpkin blossoms even before fruit sets. The plant will produce more. My friend can pick some of her "beautiful orange flowers" to add a new delicacy to her menu. Squash and pumpkin blossoms are attractive and tasty in salads. They are good sauteed, deep fried as fritters and even sugar coated for dessert. The first pretty yellow or orange flowers that appear are male. Eat these. You only need a few male flowers for pollination. The female flowers follow in about a week. You'll know the female by the small bump, a squash/ pumpkin to be, just behind the flower on the stalk. When you have plenty of fruit or with summer squash when you're richly blessed with coritinual production, use the female blossoms to grace the table and enliven the menu. x Now you've produced the perfect curcurbit. How do you know when it's ripe. Easy with squash, just don't let the summer squash get too big. Cantaloupe let you know by their scent, a strong, "musky" aroma around the stem. In some varieties, the skin changes from green to yellow or tan and the netting becomes quite distinct. The tried and true "thump test" still works on water- melon. If the sound is sharp, it isn't ripe. When ripe, the sound is a little muffled, and the melon is overripe when Con6nuedon nextpage In-Depth Factual Covera ge of the that affect you and your In Nye County. Serving all of Pahrump, ,Ida F_. Deat 4 EDIBLE FLOWER-The squash blossom is a colorful treaL This Weekend KennyMonis &00Canyon 'la raoke Kountry  Tuesday Thursday 7pm-11pm e -#-..-. . : When you play | O Mlnlature Golf or ; U - ][tn CrrsI -Ride Go-Karts ; p [ Save $ :IL ] lhtn for the gatlr Faintly 0 coupon -Arcade - Go-Karts ( I per Customer ] -Miniature Golf 7a.m,-?- 99 Breakfast S Days 7a.m .- 11a.m. .Check out our Daily Steakhouse Specials Check out our New Dinner Card Special 751-1772 Coupon Buy one dinner at Regular price - get 2nd Dinner for Half : Price {IF, quid or Value) with Coupon