Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Pumpkin seeds need no oil

Best way to tell if kiwis taste better when left to freeze on the vine is to try it

Dear Helen: As we use the pumpkins grown in the family food garden, we don't want to waste the seeds. I believe you have written before about roasting them. Our question: Do you toss the seeds in oil before roasting them?


Dear P.L.: All the directions I've read for roasting pumpkin seeds do call for using oil, but I don't. I love the taste of them simply spread in a wide pan, dusted with a little freshly grated salt, and roasted in a low oven, at around 280 F. Turning the seeds once or twice keeps them from sticking. As the seeds dry out, I start tasting them until they have reached a desired crispness.

Dear Helen: Is it true that kiwis taste best when they are left to freeze on the vines?


Dear L.K.: That depends on your flavour preferences. I've heard some kiwi growers swear that freezing sweetens the fruit, but any fruit that has been left to freeze on my female kiwi vine has developed what, in my opinion, is an off-flavour.

Why not conduct an experiment? Harvest some of the kiwis at the time of the first light frosts, as leaves begin to fall from the vines and before the fruit is fully exposed to hard frost.

Store the kiwis in cold but frost-free conditions and bring them in, a few at a time, to ripen at room temperatures. Placing the fruit in a plastic bag with an apple hastens ripening. When a kiwi "gives" like a ripe peach when lightly pressed with a thumb, it is ready to eat.

Leave some kiwis on the vine to freeze before gathering them for use, and compare their taste with the ones you have stored and ripened.

Dear Helen: Some of my tomatoes ripened with varying degrees of yellowing left at the top, stem ends of the fruit. Is this because of an imbalance in the soil? I was told that tomatoes need an abundance of lime. I wonder whether I might have overdone the liming.


Dear D.H.: Incorporating lime into the soil as part of preparing a plot for growing tomatoes is something that needs to be done with a judicious hand. Tomatoes do require the calcium in lime, to take up in the presence of adequate moisture. Without the moisture and/or the calcium, the fruit is prone to blossom end rot.

That requirement for calcium has to be balanced against the plants' preference for a slightly to moderately acidic soil. Unless you know your soil is strongly acidic, a light dusting, like sugar on a donut, of lime each spring is probably enough.

The yellow areas at the tops of some of the tomatoes can be a trait of the variety, but more commonly it occurs because of growing or weather conditions. Sunscald can also cause bleached areas at the fruit tops. In hot weather, most staked tomatoes produce the most evenly coloured fruit with at least a modest foliage covering over the fruit clusters.


? The Victoria Dahlia Society will meet on Thursday at 7: 30 p.m. in St. Michael and All Angels Church, 4733 West Saanich Rd. The meeting will feature the group's annual dahlia tuber auction, always a lively event and a great opportunity to begin or add to a garden's dahlia collection. Elections to the executive will also take place. All are welcome.


Arrangers Guild will be staging its Christmas Floral Fantasy on Friday and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day in the Cad-boro Bay United Church, 2625 Arbutus Rd. Take in inspired designs for the festive season, free demonstrations of floral gifts, a boutique with supplies, and a tea room with dainties. More information at 250655-1524.


hosting weekend tours in November of its extensive complex of greenhouses. Staff gardeners will explain propagation methods, pest controls and cultivation practices. The one-hour tours will take place Saturdays and Sundays in November at 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m., with a limit of 15 people on each tour. The tours are offered at no charge, but admission to the gardens is required. Walking is involved, on uneven terrain and in narrow spaces. To reserve call 250652-4422, ext. 203, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.