There were no set rules and no history to lean on, although later there would be disagreement about unspoken assumptions.
The goal was to grow the biggest pumpkin. That’s all. The Ball Diamond team was headed by Sita (~10) and Raphael (~5) with parental assistance. The Picnic Area Rd. team was led by David (11) and Anthony (7) with Vic as support.
Our garden soil was rich and organic. It grew ten foot tall sunflowers and thirty butternut squash in one hill of three plants. Since our gardens were organic, organic was assumed by the Ball Diamond Rd. team, but never discussed.
Vic and our sons loaded our old farm wagon with rotted manure for the pumpkin hill. I bought Mammoth Pumpkin seeds and started six plants in pots indoors a month before the last spring frost. In late May, we planted our pumpkin seedlings and began eliminating the runts and keeping the giants. Eventually there was just one giant plant spreading long vines over the manure pile at the south end of the garden.
The Picnic Area Rd. team was competitive. Sita and Raphael watched as our plant exploded and the vines spread. Then they became competitive, too. When there were many small pumpkins on a vine, both teams pruned the largest and left only a few. After more thinning and pruning, there was only one pumpkin on our vine by late summer. Oh, how it grew!
The other team was more relaxed, but the Picnic Area Rd. team was obsessed and fed the vine unpasteurized milk from a friend’s cow. Shame to say, Vic couldn’t leave it at that.
“Let’s use chemmy fertilizer,” Vic said to the kids. I wasn’t happy about this, but it wasn’t my project. Miracle Gro made our pumpkin obese. I told Raphael and Sita’s mom Pat about the MiracleGro. “You cheated,” she said, pointing an accusing finger at Vic.
Vic refused to feel guilty. “We didn’t have a rule about fertilizer,” Vic said with a wide grin. “We were just going for big.” He was forgiven (I think).
Vic, David, and Anthony rolled our pumpkin on a ramp and into the wagon and then off the ramp to the front porch. Vic, David, and Anthony were proud of their state fair size pumpkin. David’s friend Paul had fun being part of the laughter and photographs.
Anthony wore his favorite green rubber farmer’s boots for the photo. David held the family cat.
Yesterday I asked David how much the pumpkin weighed since he was eleven at the time. I knew he’d remember. “It was 225 lbs,” David said, “before it got too big to get on our scale.”
I first wrote a serious, sad piece about Gaza and the Middle East, but decided we’ve had enough grief this week. So I went with a silly family Halloween story. How does your family calebrate Halloween or Samhain?
For other blogs about my family and another photo of our first tractor, see My Beloved Sons. You’ll also enjoy Before and After: When My Old Life Died, A New Life Began.