Our pet Pumpkin Patch project has come to an end for the year, and what mixed feelings I have about the whole process. It was work. So much work. We made mistakes (truthfully I made mistakes). Mistakes that cost us a third of our crop. We stood in the sweltering heat killing Squash Bugs with our own hands and feet. We walked through the sea of pumpkin leaves, getting our arms and legs scratched, checking and rechecking our crop, placing our pumpkins on their bottoms, and helping the bees pollinate the blossoms. The Spider Mites that were happily living in the corn crop next to our property, all came to live in our pumpkin patch once the corn was chopped. In a matter of a week our healthy pumpkin crop got very sick. The Jack O’ Lanterns and white pumpkins all went down. Thanks to Justin’s research and fast action we were able to save our crop, but not without a cost. At one point I stood in the middle of the patch on the verge of tears thinking I’d ruined the boys project. But once the Spider Mites were stamped out, our vines recovered nicely and we got a whole new wave of baby pumpkins.
I also had planted a couple of rows of sunflowers for Miss E to sell in the fall, but they preformed miserably! The plants looked so good right up until it was time for them to bloom. Then everything went down hill. The sunflowers all bloomed in a matter of one week, none of them had long stems, and then they all died back. Miss E was so sad, and I was struggling to know how to make it up to her. Fortunately my own little cutting garden was still going strong. So the morning we opened the pumpkin stand, Miss E and I picked the garden clean, and were able to put together a dozen lovely bouquets for her to sell alongside the boys.
But in spite of the all the hard work and set backs, the first week in October came around and we actually had a decent crop of lovely pumpkins to sell. As the children and I hunted around the patch and piled our colorful harvest in piles to wash and sell, we all started to get really excited. Those pumpkins looks so beautiful all lined up, cleaned, and ready to sell. We were all so proud! My big concern was that the boys would make a profit. I knew they would probably sell enough pumpkins to cover their costs, but would it be enough to make a summer full of hot work worth the effort? The boys did all the work to set up their pumpkin stand. Scrubbing the pumpkins, arranging them on bales of hay, setting up tables, arranging prices and signs.
Do you know what the most amazing part of this story is? Our friends and family came in droves to buy pumpkins from our boys, and flowers from Miss E that warm October Saturday! Car after car came down the lane, people piled colorful pumpkins on the table and more often than not, when the boys tried to give them their change the answer was, “Keep the change!”. In a matter of just one day we sold out! Miss E sold all of her flowers and there weren’t any pumpkins left! Not only did the boys cover their costs but they made a tidy sum to put in the bank. I was so relieved!
As our friends came and went that day the question we heard over and over was, “So, can we look forward to another year of pumpkins?!” I laughed and said “That’s like asking a woman who just gave birth, if she wants to have another baby!”. But after all is said and done, I feel like we should at least give it another year. We paid our dues, and I think next year would be much smoother. We know how to manage the pest that plague pumpkins, and the boys will be able to do more with less supervision. I figured out which pumpkin varieties preformed the best, and I already have a metal list on new varieties I’d like to try next year. So here’s to hard work that pays off, learning new things, a community that supports young entrepreneurs, and working together as a family!