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Warty pumpkin
CALL ME ‘WARTY’: Beauty has always been in the eye of the beholder, even when it comes to pumpkins.

Pumpkin pointers: Here’s what the 'Pumpkin Queen' taught Mike

Here are some of the fun — not scary — things the Reskovacs have learned in five years of growing and marketing pumpkins.

Marriage can bring unexpected revelations. Mike, for instance, never knew much about pumpkins until he married Sheilah. Here’s how their pumpkin patch unfolded.

Mike: The first spring we were married, she asked if we could plant some pumpkins. I figured, why not? Pumpkins sounded fun. So I left a quarter-acre patch at the end of the sweet corn patch and commenced learning about pumpkin growing.

Silly me, I thought we’d plant them with the planter. But Sheilah informed me that her family had always planted them by hand, and she’d like to do it that way as well — at least for the first year. So I gathered up all the supplies she told me we’d need.

A couple days before we planted, a small box arrived in the mail with her name on it. “What’s this?” I asked.

Sheilah: “My pumpkin seeds.”

Mike: “You mean you didn’t just go to the store and buy pumpkin seeds? You ordered them? From a catalog?” I soon had my answer.

Sheilah: “Do you just go to the store and buy corn seed? Seems to me you look at catalogs before picking out which corn seed you want to buy.”

Mike: Point taken. Come pumpkin planting day, half the neighbors came to watch or help. It was pretty enjoyable planting them by hand — a lot of work, but enjoyable. That first year, everyone would stop to look at the patch and see how the pumpkins were growing. Everyone would ask Sheilah — not me — when they’d be ready, and how we knew they’d be ready.

The first and second year that we planted, it was more of a hobby than anything. We didn’t have much of a marketing plan. The third year, we cleaned out the upstairs of our barn to host meetings in, and Sheilah had the idea to try to sell them out of the barn. That was a hit — except with me, the head pumpkin-picker.

We keep getting more customers each year. Our patch has grown from a quarter-acre to three-quarters of an acre. I’m thinking the patch will be even bigger next year.

This was our fifth year of planting pumpkins, and I’m still learning. I never knew there were so many different breeds of them — big, small, orange, white, pink, warty — and that doesn’t even get into gourd categories. Most are still planted by hand. But this year, I was allowed to plant some with the planter.

I call Sheilah the 'pumpkin queen.' She decides what seeds to buy, when to plant, when to pick, etc. There’s one thing I won’t let her plant — snake gourds. I hate snakes! She tries to come up with something different every year, so we shall see what the pumpkin queen finds for 2018.

Sheilah and Mike Reskovac farm near Uniontown, Pa. Catch all their "Two Hearts, One Harvest" blogs at AmericanAgriculturist.com.

TAGS: Crops
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