Letters

Letters 08-03-2015

Real Brownfields Deserve Dollars I read with interest the story on Brownfield development dollars in the July 20 issue. I applaud Dan Lathrop and other county commissioners who voted “No” on the Randolph Street project...

Hopping Mad Carlin Smith is hopping mad (“Will You Get Mad With Me?” 7-20-15). Somebody filed a fraudulent return using his identity, and he’s not alone. The AP estimates the government “pays more than $5 billion annually in fraudulent tax refunds.” Well, many of us have been hopping mad for years. This is because the number one tool Congress has used to fix this problem has been to cut the IRS budget –by $1.2 billion in the last 5 years...

Just Grumbling, No Solutions Mark Pontoni’s grumblings [recent Northern Express column] tell us much about him and virtually nothing about those he chooses to denigrate. We do learn that Pontoni may be the perfect political candidate. He’s arrogant, opinionated and obviously dimwitted...

A Racist Symbol I have to respond to Gordon Lee Dean’s letter claiming that the confederate battle flag is just a symbol of southern heritage and should not be banned from state displays. The heritage it represents was the treasonous effort to continue slavery by seceding from a democratic nation unwilling to maintain such a consummate evil...

Not So Thanks I would like to thank the individual who ran into and knocked over my Triumph motorcycle while it was parked at Lowe’s in TC on Friday the 24th. The $3,000 worth of damage was greatly appreciated. The big dent in the gas tank under the completely destroyed chrome badge was an especially nice touch...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Picking pumpkins
. . . .

Picking pumpkins

Kristi Kates - October 25th, 2010
Picking the Perfect Pumpkin
By Kristi Kates
Are you getting ready to pick out this year’s Halloween pumpkin?
Perhaps you can make that experience a little more interesting than
your basic stop at the grocery store.
First things first: pumpkins aren’t a vegetable - they’re actually a
fruit. As a matter of fact, their name originates from the word pepon,
which translates from the Greek word “large melon.” The word pepon
then moved through cultural shifts in language, into the French
pompon, the British pumpion, and the word we know today, the American
pumpkin. And they’ve been around since around 5500 BC - although they
weren’t carved into Jack O’Lanterns until the early to mid 1800s.
The typical size ranges from a pumpkin so tiny that you could tuck it
into your jacket pocket, to pumpkins that tip the scale in the
hundreds of pounds. Most of the pumpkin itself is edible, and is often
a staple of North American autumn menus.
They’ve made plenty of appearances in popular culture, too - some of
the most familiar being Cinderella’s carriage, the Pumpkin Juice
beverage from the Harry Potter movies, the pumpkin atop the torso of
the headless horseman in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and of course
the cartoon Peanuts’ yearly visit from The Great Pumpkin.
But here in Northern Michigan, it’s mostly about the pumpkin as that
perfect Halloween accessory. Grown at farms across the region, picking
the perfect pumpkin is a yearly custom that most of us look forward
to; never mind that Jack O’Lanterns actually started with people
carving designs into hollowed-out... turnips.

PUMPKINS TO GO
Steve Fouch, one of the owners of Jacob’s Corn Maze in Traverse City,
keeps things almost as simple as those good old days with Jacob’s
pumpkins.
“We grow a variety of pumpkin called Hannibal,” he says. “These are
pumpkins that grow in the 20-25 pound range, pretty consistently. They
are appealing pumpkins, because they’re just the right size of pumpkin
that people enjoy for decorating and carving.”
While a quick Internet search reveals at least 30 different varieties
of pumpkins, Jacob’s only grows the singular Hannibal variety for
their Halloween customers (“that’s the only one we grow - it’s a very
solid pumpkin,” Fouch says) - and they’ve done all the picking for
you, too, further simplifying the 2010 pumpkin-buying process.
“All of our pumpkins are out of the field already. They’ve been
pre-picked,” Fouch explains, “we picked them now to avoid frost, and
they’re waiting on our farm carts here for people to choose and
purchase them over the next couple of weekends.”
Around a thousand of them, to be more precise - that’s the amount of
pumpkins that Jacob’s estimates they sell every Halloween.

BOOS AND BIGGIES
By contrast, Pond Hill Farm in Harbor Springs offers a more artistic
approach to your Halloween pumpkin-choosing. Jimmy Spencer, who
co-owns Pond Hill Farm along with his family and who oversees the
pumpkin-growing each year, explains that he thinks people sometimes
get a little “hung up” on the traditional orange pumpkin, which can
keep them from seeing the “bigger picture” of pumpkin options.
“We grow around a dozen different kinds of pumpkins,” Spencer says,
“starting with the miniature pumpkins - the Baby Boo and Baby Bear
varieties. We grow pie pumpkins, Giant Pumpkins, and, of course, the
usual Jack O’Lantern pumpkins - this year, as far as varieties, we’ve
got Gold Medal, Gold Rush, Wolf, and the Howden Biggie.”
While Spencer certainly doesn’t discourage people from purchasing the
orange pumpkins that are thought of as the gold - uh, sorry, orange -
standard for Halloween decor, he suggests that they perhaps try one of
Pond Hill’s more unusual pumpkin varieties, which can both add color
to your Halloween display - and food to your table.

COLOR YOUR HALLOWEEN
“There are a lot of really neat pumpkins,” Spencer says. “Our
specialty pumpkins include White, Blue, Green, and something called a
‘Cinderella’ pumpkin, which is more flat than a typical pumpkin and
ranges from a very bright orange to pink. The ‘Cinderella’ - its
botanical name is Rogue de’Vampes- is probably my favorite pumpkin, I
believe it’s a French Pumpkin and is quite beautiful with its
flattened shape.”
Spencer also explains that all of the specialty pumpkins are extremely
good for eating as well as holiday carving.
“You can make them into good soups or pies, and you can also roast
them, like a winter squash,” he says.
His favorite Pond Hill pumpkin activity, however, doesn’t include
ovens or carving knives; but does involve a whole lot of gardening
expertise and care.
“I like to grow Giant Pumpkins,” he chuckles, “our biggest this year
was 500 pounds. Last year’s was 300 pounds. So we’re learning as we go
- and hoping for a 1,000 pound pumpkin next year.”
  Now that would make one of the biggest Halloween Jack O’Lanterns of all.

Jacob’s Corn Maze is located at 7100 E. Traverse Hwy/M-72 West in
Traverse City, telephone 231-632-MAZE, and is offering the T-Rex Corn
Maze this year along with their pumpkins. Pond Hill Farm is located at
5581 S. Lake Shore Drive in Harbor Springs, telephone 231-526-FARM,
and offers U-Pick Pumpkins daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. along with
Hayrides and their Garden Cafe.

 
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