Pumpkins are ripe for picking

HILLSDALE COUNTY – Pumpkins are ripe for picking and farmers’ markets and grocery stores carry their weight in the fall’s favorite vegetable for pumpkins and fall decorations.

Local pumpkin growers say they are seeing a successful harvest.

“We have a pretty good harvest, but we were a little worried that they would start to turn orange in August,” said local grower Tom Kolasa.

The weather factor is decisive in the region. Pumpkins prefer warm, dry weather, with rain at the appropriate times. Most growers say a little rain is needed when they are producing fruit and when they flower. After that, after the fruits are set, there is no need for much rain. Primarily, temperatures need to drop below 90 for the fruit to set.

Although he’s just started growing pumpkins again at K’s Acres Fruit and Berry Farm, Kolasa has three varieties: Howden, Goosebumps, and Pie Pumpkin. He has a small plot – 100 by 30 feet.

Kolasa said the harvested pumpkins last at least about a month and a half, but sometimes longer.

“This year, since everyone has pumpkins in the stores, we decided to have them painted,” Kolasa said. They sell well. We’ve painted everything from Star Wars to Sesame Street and more. We also have pumpkin sports – we have Sparty and Michigan, Hillsdale Hornets and Hillsdale College. “

K’s Acres Fruit and Berry Farm at 4680 Fitzpatrick Road, Hillsdale, is owned by Kolasa and has been passed down through his family for generations.

Tom’s grandparents, Walter and Stephanie Eminowicz, originally owned the 160-acre farm, growing standard row crops including alfalfa, corn and other grains in addition to livestock.

In the 1960s, Tom’s grandparents stopped farming, and later his mother, Clara Kolasa, took over the farm.

Tom Kolasa took over the family farm in 2000, coming from the Detroit area where he grew up.

He continued to expand the variety of farm-grown fruit until the mid-2000s by implementing orchard fruit to provide a longer growing season.

Growing pumpkins has been a proud tradition for many years for Diana Young and her husband, Rodney of Pittsford. Their Buster & Dolly Produce stand can be found weekly at the Hillsdale County Farmers Market on Saturdays in Hillsdale. They normally have everything from fresh produce to eggs and fruit, but at this time of year they also like to bring their “pumpkins of character”.

“I love the Knuckled Pumpkins because they are different,” said Diana Young. “I have been cultivating them for about 10 years.”

She also has white ones, flat ones and bigger ones called Dill’s Giants.

“Everyone loves variety,” she says. “Anyone can go to a store and buy a regular old pumpkin, but mine is unusual and more attractive.”

Young said it has been “a great growing season” with excellent yields.

“I entered my pumpkins at the Hillsdale County Fair and got blue ribbons on my Flat Pumpkins and Knucklehead varieties,” Young said.

Young grows his pumpkins on half an acre and has two different plots, so his varieties don’t crossbreed.

“I remember when I was a kid we used to sell pumpkin lanterns by the side of the road,” she said. “It’s just easier to do it with a group at the Farmer’s Market in town.”

Carol and Stan Smith of Creek Valley Farms in Waldron have harvested approximately 300 pumpkins from their farm in the past month. They’ve started lining up pumpkins of all shapes and sizes in their garden because interest is high, but they mainly take them to the Hillsdale County Farmers Market.

“People will stop and buy raspberries and get their fall decor items at the same time,” said Carol Smith. “We also have articles online.”

Some people get them by full truckloads so that they can sell them from their vans, she added.

Growing pumpkins has been something she’s been doing for about 15 years and this year has been a good year of growing, Smith said.

“It’s a good hobby for me,” she said. “I love the colors of all the varieties and it’s quite refreshing to harvest something that isn’t perishable like berries. We have five varieties that make great garden decorations and warty pumpkins are popular. also have white and blue babies and a white and orange stripe. “

To carve pumpkin lanterns, customers turn to the larger varieties, some between 4 and 8 pounds, she said.

“It’s a lot of work,” Smith said. “It takes a while to wash them all, but it’s fun as long as I can.”

Tom Kolasa, owner of K's Acres Fruit and Berry Farm, has started painting pumpkins that he grows for his customers. [COURTESY PHOTO]
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