Friday, December 8, 2017

Easy Tricks for Pretty Treats by Carrie Garczynski

Photo by Carrie Garczynski
We all have pumpkins this time of year – either for decoration or degustation. Instead of tossing or before composting, there are a few tricks you can do to elongate your autumnal enjoyment. Not only do you have luscious pumpkin flesh to create a tasty treat, you have a perfect decorative vase for the center of your table. Decor like this can also be composted when the season is over. 

Photo by Carrie Garczynski
Tools, etc. that you need: pumpkin (any size), knife, scoop, plastic shopping bag (from Target, Safeway, etc.), chicken wire, wire cutters, flowers (branches, small fruit, berries, leaves, etc.), wooden skewer sticks, pruner, and gloves. 
In order to create your pumpkin masterpiece, rinse off the outside, and cut the top of into any shape you want. This can be used a decorative ‘cap’ or tossed. Clean off the ‘guts’ from the cap; if you are keeping it, set aside. Next clean out your pumpkin with your scoop, and either discard everything or save the seeds/flesh to make a culinary treat. Take your plastic bag and cut the bottom part to fit inside the pumpkin to hold in water. You don’t need to do this step, but the pumpkin and the flowers soak up quite a bit of water, and this helps to hold more for your flowers. 
Once you have the bag in place, with your gloves on, use your wire cutters to cut the chicken wire to a size where you can ball it up to fit your pumpkin. For example, some of the pie-sized pumpkins would hold a tennis or softball-size ball of wire. Tuck all the sharp points in and place inside the hole of your pumpkin. Then lightly pull the wire around to fit the whole inside and make sure to have the wire overlap into a ‘webbed’ ball so it will hold flowers stems securely.
For the flowers, etc., pick whatever colors, shapes and size you want to best fit your pumpkin and the design you want. Start with the greenery and ‘filler’. Decide how tall and wide you want your arrangement to be and cut each piece to fit that measurement (see picture for example). Start with one branch and put it in your pumpkin on an angle, making sure it is secured in the wire. Then turn your pumpkin to the opposite side and put the exact same size filler in. Turn a quarter turn and do the same thing on both those sides, and start angling up as you add. 
Keep turning your pumpkin to get a perspective from all angles so you can get a symmetrical arrangement. 
Once you have the filler throughout the whole pumpkin, light but lush, you can start adding your flowers. Measure your flowers before you cut (you can add ones that got cut too short in later, just make sure they reach the water) and keep turning your arrangement while adding them. When you have all your flowers in, pick up your pumpkin or kneel down to see the it at eye-level. From here you can see where you need your ‘spillers’. These are the flowers, leaves, greenery, etc., that you want slightly cascading or spilling over the side of your arrangement. 
Look over your whole pumpkin arrangement and tweak as you wish – add a few of flowers, fillers, or fruit (skewer them securely), rearrange a few, etc. You can then add your ‘cap’ by taking a skewer stick and poking it on a slight angle into your ‘cap’. This can be set into your arrangement wherever you wish – maybe you have a gap somewhere or the flowers are shorter, etc. A ribbon would also be a great addition. Add water and check regularly by sticking your finger on one side. These will hold water nicely and can be set directly out for your fall décor. They can also be composted nicely when they are spent (minus any ribbon, skewer, wire, etc.) 
Photo by Carrie Garczynski
Another option would be to hold on to your uncut pumpkins and use them for Christmas, Hanukah, or other holiday décor by spray painting your pumpkin before you cut them and using flowers and fillers in the best colors to represent those festivities. (painted pumpkins are not suggested for compost)
Enjoy your creative, unique and handmade pumpkin floral arrangement – either for yourself or a great hostess gift! And save room for the pie!