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December 6, 2002     Cape Gazette
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December 6, 2002

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62 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, Dec. 6 - Dec. 12, 2002 GARDEN & FARM Holiday plants can present a danger to kids Mistletoe and holly are festive ways to decorate the home during the holiday season, but some of the most beautiful plants can be dangerous, especially for children. Poinsettias, one of the most popular holiday plants, can cause skin irritation and severe stomach problems. Holly and mistletoe berries are poisonous, so those who have the plants should be mindful of immediately picking up any berries that fall to the floor. "Parents who suspect their child may have ingested a plant part should immediately call their lo- cal poison-control 'center or their child's doctor," said Dr. Julie Boom, pediatrician at Texas Chil- dren's Hospita ! and professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. "Do not induce vomit- Holly and mistletoe berries (above) are poisonous, so those who have the plants should be mindful of immediately pick- ing up any berries that fall to the floor. ing with ipecac syrup unless in- structed to do so." The following holiday plants are poisonous and should be kept out of reach from children: amaryllis, azalea, boxwood, Christmas cherry, Christmas rose, crown of thorns, English and American ivy and mountain lau- rel. For more information on Texas Children's Hospital, visit the website texaschildrenshospital .com. Adjust Gross Revenue Workshop for farmers slated Dec. 12 in Dover An Adjusted Gross Revenue Workshop will be held from 8:30 a.m. to noon, Thursday, Dec. 12, at the Delaware Department of Agriculture, 2320 South DuPont Highway, Dover. H. Don Tilmon, Specialist IV, Delaware Coopera- tive Extension Farm Management and Don Clifton of Farmers First Services Inc. will be the presen- ters. This workshop is designed to improve the understanding of pro- ducers concerning the whole farm revenue product known as Adjust- ed Gross Revenue (AGR) insur- ance. The AGR plan provides in- surance coverage for multiple agricultural commodities under one insurance product. A limited amount of income from livestock, animal products, and aquaculture products grown in a controlled en- vironment may also be covered. The approach to be used in this workshop will be a 'case study' with all the forms needed to deter- mine eligibility, and ample time for individuals to enter informa- tion from their own farms if they choose to do so. Advance registration for the workshop is not required. The workshop is sponsored by the Delaware Department of Agri- culture, RMA/USDA, Delaware Cooperative Extension and Farm- ers First Services Inc. For more information, contact H. Don T'flmon at 302-831-1325 Neck pumpkins are riving, breathing heirlooms Many Amish speak High Ger- man at worship and English at home. Often the English takes on German semantics with resulting sentence structure such as "Smear Sarah all over with jam a piece of bread." Or, "Throw mama from the train a kiss." By holding fast to a slower paced life and accepting change only slowly, the Amish have also inadvertently become great pre- servers of heirloom crops. This becomes evident in November, which is wedding month in Amish country of Lancaster, Pa. After the three-plus hour service, a huge feast is served to the guests who can number as many as 400. Among the sour cream apple pie and oatmeal cake you might find neck pumpkin pie. The neck pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) looks for all the world like a long brown serpent. It grows from 18 to 24 inches long with tan skin and a curved neck much like a summer squash. The neck pump- kin or neck squash is a vigorous grower, with rampant vines that can take over a garden. Luckily you can trellis it, and many gar- deners report that even on a trellis the fruits need no support. Also, trellised neck pumpkins tend to grow straighter. Some neck pumpkins such as the heirloom "Gooseneck" can be cut and if not used at once will ac- tually "heal," allowing the rest of the fruit to be used later. Original- ly from northern South America this pumpkin or squash has, like the Amish; adapted-, subtly to ,its GARDEN JOURNAL Paul Barbano North American home. Indeed, in the 1960s, the Massachusetts Agriculture Extension Service succeeded in crossing the neck pumpkin with an African strain and produced a small more man- ageable squash named after the town of Waltham, the "Waltham Butternut." , The butternut squash retains the buff skin and deep orange flesh of the neck pumpkin but instead of a crookneck it has a straight neck. For smaller gardens try the shorter vined Butterbush whose one to two pound fruits are on a semi- bush vine. The variety "Ponca" is extra early and relatively short vined butternut squash. Neck pumpkins can curve up and around almost coming full circle. The neck is solid flesh with the seeds confined to a small cavity in the pumpkin's base. All of this solid flesh results I pumpkin will be enough for 20 pies. Plant neck pumpkins in rich soil with full sun. Sow neck pump- kin seeds in groups or hills of three or four seeds. Plant the seeds one inch deep three feet apart in rows four feet apart. Work a cup of balanced organic fertilizer into the soil around each plant. Neck pumpkins have huge leaves, often 18 inches across, which help protect the developing fruits. Harvest your neck pumpkins when fully ma- ture, that is when you can't press your fingernail in- to the skin. They will be a mellow fawn color by then. For highest sugar content, cut them from the stem and let them cure in the field for a day or so. Don't allow them to get hit with heavy frost or they won't keep ..... in amazing yields; fterr one neck ,..well:- To'a*ceyolrr'owrrseeds for next year, you will need to tape the female blossoms shut and then hand pollinate, and then retape them to prevent insect polli- nation. A sable artist brush works well. To get your start of neck pumpkin seeds, try seed exchanges or or- der from Burpee Seeds (800-333- 5808) or Harris Seeds (800-514-4441). Neck pumpkins are a great source of beta- carotene and potassi- um and are naturally low fat and high fiber. Neck pumpkins can be cooked in any pumpkin or winter squash recipe. Heirlooms are often thought of as dead relics from a distant past, but neck pump- kins are living, breathing heirlooms. Like all living things they change slowly over time, but retain the qualities that made them valuable to begin with, and perhaps that is why they have a place at Amish wedding ta- bles. Paul Barbano writes about garden- ing and farming from his home in Rehoboth Beach. Address ques- tions or comments to him c/o the Cape Gazette.