Take a hayride to the pumpkin patch, or walk there if you'd like! Hayrides depart near the horse pasture. This year, to help with social distancing we are asking groups to 1) sit nice and snug with your family, 2) keep a safe distance between parties, 3) if too crowded, wait for the next rack and 4) be kind and courteous. When it's busy, the driver will take you to the patch and drop you off, then you will catch another rack back when you're ready. There might be a learning curve, so we appreciate your patience!
Below are some of the unique pumpkins we grow. Most are priced by the pound, $.39/lb. for orange Jack o'Lantern pumpkins and $.45/lb. for specialty varieties. Pie pumpkins, Cotton Candy (round white) and the striped Blaze pumpkins are $3 each. Mini pumpkins and gourds are $1 each, Acorn squash are $1 each and Spaghetti & Butternut squash are $2 each. All are available in the U-pick patch and pre-picked in the barn.
JACK O'LANTERN is our general name for any big, orange pumpkin. We grow varieties from volleyball-sized on up to 50+ pounds and they are perfect for decorating or carving.
CHEESE pumpkins are named because they were thought to look like a wheel of cheese. They are bright yellow inside and are beloved as cooking pumpkins. They are an old-fashioned American heirloom variety -- it's quite possible these were at the first Thanksgiving!
COTTON CANDY is a hybrid white pumpkin and is almost always round. They are great in fall displays or for painting!
JARRAHDALE is sometimes called a "blue pumpkin" and originally came from the town of Jarrahdale in New Zealand! It has stringless, golden flesh and is prized for cooking. Of course they're beautiful and perfect for decorating, too. They will last a looooong time!
KNUCKLEHEAD pumpkins develop big, comical warts on their skin from a buildup of sugar in the rind. They're some of our favorites here at the farm!
MINI PUMPKINS are just that! This year we grew Casperita (white), Orangita (you guessed it--orange), and Spark (striped). Casperita and Orangita are edible.
FLAT WHITE BOER is a unique South African variety developed by the ancestors of the Dutch Settlers. It is perfect for stacking, good for baking and long-storing.
PORCELAIN DOLL is a newer hybrid pumpkin and similar to Jarrahdale in many ways (besides color). They were introduced as a fund-raiser for breast cancer awareness, hence the pink color.
ROUGE VIF D'ETAMPES is a French pumpkin variety. "Rouge Vif" means "vivid red". They have moderately sweet orange flesh and are excellent for pies. It is often called a Cinderella pumpkin because it looks just like the coach in the fairytale.
GALEUSE D'EYSINES Some say it's ugly, some call it elegant, but we all agree it's unique. This heirloom pumpkin was virtually unknown in the U.S. until it was discovered at the 1996 Pumpkin Fair in Tranzault, France. It is commonly called a Peanut Pumpkin because, well..... In France, it's traditionally used for soups and sauces.
BLAZE pumpkins are a hybrid ornamental, not good for eating but super fun for decorating! They are great for the top of a pumpkin stack.
PIE PUMPKINS are sometimes called "sugar pumpkins" and are perfect for baking, especially pies. Their flesh is more dense and sweet than a carving/Jack o'Lantern pumpkin, smoother, and less stringy. Of course they are small and adorable so you are welcome to decorate with them, too.
DID YOU KNOW:
That pumpkins, squash and gourds are called Cucurbits? A Cucurbit is defined as "any of various mostly climbing or trailing plants of the family Cucurbitaceae, which includes the squash, pumpkin, cucumber, gourd, watermelon, and cantaloupe."
That pumpkins are grown all over the world?
Six of the seven continents can grow pumpkins including Alaska! Antarctica is the only continent that they won't grow in.
That the Irish brought this tradition of pumpkin carving to America?
The tradition originally started with the carving of turnips. When the Irish immigrated to the U.S., they found pumpkins a plenty and they were much easier to carve for their ancient holiday.
More Fun Facts About The Pumpkin:
Pumpkins contain potassium and Vitamin A.
Pumpkin flowers are edible.
The largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took six hours to bake.
In early colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling.
Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites.
The largest pumpkin ever grown weighed 1,140 pounds.
The Connecticut field variety is the traditional American pumpkin.
Pumpkins are 90 percent water.
Eighty percent of the pumpkin supply in the United States is available in October.
Native Americans flattened strips of pumpkins, dried them and made mats.
Native Americans called pumpkins "isqoutm squash."
Native Americans used pumpkin seeds for food and medicine.
(The preceding facts are from the website www.pumpkin-patch.com.)
PLANTING, GROWING & HARVESTING
We grow all our own pumpkins and do the planting mid-June. This may seem kind of late, but we plan it so most of the pumpkins are ripe just in time for our late-September opening day.
We use a 4-row John Deere corn planter and plant into a cover crop of oats which we planted earlier in the spring. The cover crop helps keep weeds down until planting time. After planting, we spray and kill the oats. They continue to help with weed control all summer, and add organic matter, to the soil, too!
We use the two outside boxes of the planter, which have had the plates changed to accommodate pumpkin seeds. Seeds are planted in long rows.
Some smaller seeds like gourds and squash are planted by riding on the back of the planter and dropping the seeds by hand into the seed tubes.
In 7-10 days the seeds have sprouted with two leaves called cotyledon leaves. The seedling continues to add leaves and as summer goes on most varieties will begin to form long vines that spread across the field. Soon blossoms begin appearing on the vines. Male blossoms appear first, followed a bit later by female blossoms which are attached to the bottom of baby pumpkins (see top right box of photo). That little belly-button-looking spot on the bottom of a pumpkin is where the blossom was attached.
Bees and other flying insects pollinate (or fertilize) the baby pumpkins as they fly from blossom to blossom. Several types of bees visit the pumpkins, including Bumblebees and Squash Bees. Squash Bees live in holes they dig in the soil and get their food (pollen) almost strictly from Cucurbit plants!
If the baby pumpkin is successfully pollinated it will begin growing larger and changing color. It is ready to be harvested when the skin is firm and has ripened to a vibrant color, and when the stem is hardened. The average time from planting to maturity is 90-100 days.