IT MAY seem early to think about the fall fair but gardeners who want to enter their produce will have to start soon.
And to kickstart everyone, Cathy Jackson of Spotted Horse Nursery is sponsoring a pumpkin growing and sunflower growing contest for those ages 16 and under and also 16 and older.
“She has also created a category for those 16 and over, because she knows a growing contest brings out the kid in all of us,” says Nancy Ross, Skeena Valley Fall Fair committee president.
Categories are largest pumpkin and largest sunflower. Largest pumpkin will be measured by circumference and largest sunflower by the size of its head, excluding petals.
Seeds will be provided for free for young growers age 15 and under, or they can use their own seeds.
For any new gardeners who want to enter the contest, Ross’s advice is to start seeds indoors or in a greenhouse, and transplant them into the ground when it’s good and warm outside, maybe in early June. Baby them and use lots of compost or manure, she hsaid.
The soil should be kept moist, but make sure it’s a well-drained, sunny site. Some growers protect their plants from cold and wind.
For both pumpkins and sunflowers, the way to get the largest is to let the fruits and flowers set, but to choose the largest one after it has clearly shown it is growing well and remove all others, said Ross. Then the plant puts all of its energy into that one.
For pumpkins, once the fruit has set and is growing well, and especially if we have a warm summer, it’s important to water your pumpkin plant regularly.
The contest is in keeping with this year’s fall fair theme, “Celebrate Local,” with the idea of celebrating the local in every aspect of the events.
The Skeena Valley Fall Fair 2013 Committee hopes more gardeners than ever get involved and showcase their produce, their flowers and other talents this year; there are more categories to enter for exhibits, and many fun events being planned.
The Skeena Valley Fall Fair returns September 7-8.