7522 – Warty pumpkins, happy cows, and driving the Negangard pumpkin patch

The world famous Negangard Pumpkin Patch got its start some time in the ’70s. Today, people come from communities near and far to pick a perfect, or imperfect, pumpkin just southeast of Philo, Illinois. In this episode we learn the history of the pumpkin patch, go behind the scenes of what it takes to ready it for thousands of annual visitors, and get a front-seat tour of the pumpkin field.


Negangard Pumpkin Patch


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This is an automated transcript which likely contains minor errors.

Steve Holstein (00:00):
So we’re driving along the edge of the patch right now. I mean, there are pumpkins that are like right in the,

Mitch Negangard (00:08):
I think we just ran over a couple there, you know, they, they just keep growing and growing and growing out as long as they have, you know, adequate weather and, you know, good, you know, a good amount of rain, you know, they’ll, they’ll stay green and they’ll sell, they’ll sell, reach out and, you know, we gotta drive down. Um, you know, we have to get through somehow. So you end up having to sacrifice a couple of the newer plants and the newer, you know, pumpkins that come on.

Pam Negangard (00:37):
Um, I am Pam, Nick and guard. I am the mom of the kids that run this operation. Um, I usually in charge of helping or getting people to help take money and that kind of thing. So I’m the seller I have have advanced from picking thank goodness to, uh, checking people out.

Mitch Negangard (00:57):
Yeah. So I’m a mentioned egg and garden. Uh, the son of Pam and Roger. So, uh, the pumpkin patch is actually my grandparents, uh, place for the farm has been for years and years. Uh, I’m actually a fifth generation farmer here. Um, as you, as my mom says, she’s the kind of the face that people see, you know, they see her every day, she’s checking out. Um, what I do is all the business side of things, the agricultural side of things, uh, my dad and I really go and kind of get kind of go hand in hand with the ag side. Um, but from day-to-day phone calls and taking on, uh, you know, field trips or, you know, large pumpkin orders, people who want to do events for weddings and whatnot, that’s kind of the things I handle. And then all the, the actual pickers, we get high school kids. And I guess some of my buddies out here and, and family that comes out and helps, uh, we all them out there going, and it’s a, it’s the best job in the world. He can’t beat it.

Steve Holstein (01:50):
Nobody dislikes a pumpkin patch. Right?

Pam Negangard (01:53):
Yeah. Last year it was so much fun because people were so glad to be doing something normal. You know, they weren’t stuck at home. It was luckily our businesses outside. So, you know, they were able to come out and do something. It was great last year. I really, I was, I was pleasantly surprised.

Steve Holstein (02:10):
I mean, there’s really no way to tell, but you anticipated being similar this year to,

Pam Negangard (02:15):
I think so. I think so. I think a lot of people are, um, you know, they’re a little bit past the COVID and they’re, you know, it’s starting to pick up again obviously, but I think people are ready to continue to do something normal, you know, get back to their normal life before COVID

Steve Holstein (02:31):
Tell me how many acres of pumpkins

Mitch Negangard (02:34):
That’s about a 35 to 40 acres. Um, you know, it’s funny like when you start playing pumpkins or in a single row, you know, all spring and early summer, and then when they started to vine out, they really start to cover some more areas. So, you know, what starts as 10, 15 acres, you know, doubles and triples by the end of the fall, you know? So, you know, when the pumpkins take off, they really shut down and cover ground. Yeah.

Steve Holstein (02:56):
I never thought about that because my wife grows pumpkins and squash and stuff like that and her garden, and she’s got a good size garden, you know, in champagne. So it’s not, you know, farm size or anything, but you’re right. They just, they sort of just branch out vine out and next thing you know, they’ve taken over,

Mitch Negangard (03:10):
They really take over and, you know, and early in the year, the biggest battle we have is taking care of weeds. Cause there’s a lot of bare dirt and you know, we get a rain, we get some sun and then we just want to pop out of the ground. So we’re always out there chopping weeds and, you know, trying to keep them clean. But by the time they find out and get the big leaves on and they cover up, you know, it’s amazing how much they really grow and three months. Yeah. You know, it’s incredible.

Steve Holstein (03:34):
And you can, can you tell, like after a good rain it’s like they just pop,

Mitch Negangard (03:38):
Especially early. Yeah. Early when they’re in, once they put a vine out, I mean, it just seems like overnight, they, they, they grow. Like you can almost watch them grow them because you know, and this year we’ve had great rains. We’ve had great weather and there was times in the year where it was like, wow, you know, you’re gone for a couple of days on the weekend or whatever. And you come back, it’s like, oh my God, they, they just grew twice. The size almost seems like, you know, but, but they really do, uh, once they start to take off, they just keep on going talk about

Steve Holstein (04:06):
Varieties because I don’t know, I’ve not been coming here as long as some people that have been coming here for 10 or 15 years. And it seems like you guys have some really different varieties over the years. You just keep adding and, you know, not just the standard orange, pumpkin, right.

Mitch Negangard (04:21):
So we, like I said, we have about 140 different varieties. And some, some you can’t tell by looking at them, uh, you know, year to year one might do better than the other. So we kind of grow, you know, several different types of orange pumpkins. That is our main, uh, attraction. But, you know, from the small ones to the big ones, you know, there’s usually four or five different varieties and those size ranges, um, the Gores and squash, we’re always looking for something new, you know, catalogs, uh, we’re going through and saying, Hey, this one looks pretty cool. It might sell. Or people might like that. Um, the big ones that people are getting into are stacking pumpkins as seems like the flat ones that they stack up and decorate with. So we’re always looking for a new flat pumpkin to stack and with different colors and different shapes and, you know, to go from a big base and kind of build it up smaller.

Mitch Negangard (05:06):
Um, but really, uh, our big ones have been the same for a long time. Uh, the great big they’re, they’re, uh, like 150 pounds, you know, in that range. Uh, we’ve been growing those for years and years and years. And you know, some things like that, they’re so good. You just kind of leave them alone. You know, you don’t, you don’t fix something that’s broke. Um, but as far as like your, your average pumpkins, the orange ones, the white ones, you know, the, the specialties, you know, squash, whatever it is, uh, we’re always looking for something new to try out and see if they have something better and there’s different varieties, um, that different catalog sell. And, you know, we just keep on expanding and trying something new.

Steve Holstein (05:42):
So my wife, when she’s looking at her garden catalogs, she’s starting like right after Christmas, they start coming in the mail. I mean, is that Pam kind of how it works with you guys to where you get the same catalogs that the average person gets, or you need to get like a farmer’s grade catalog. We easily a bunch

Pam Negangard (05:57):
Of different, um, catalogs from different companies that offer all the different kinds of variety of seeds. And I’m pretty sure they start getting them right after, right after the season. I feel like they start getting the catalogs and looking ahead for next year, see what sold this year, what didn’t sell, you know, um, I know the wordy ones are real popular with people. People either think they’re the ugliest thing ever, or they think they’re the coolest thing other, so those are always real popular. And so we try to make sure we have some of those, the awardees, but the catalogs. Yeah. There’s just so many different varieties that whether it’s squash or gourds or pumpkins and people are always, when they come up, they’ll ask me now, what kind of pumpkin is this? And I’m like, let me, let me see if I’m fine, Mitch. Yeah.

Steve Holstein (06:42):
When did you host your first cost? A bunch of customers for the pumpkin patch? How many years ago?

Pam Negangard (06:48):
Well, my husband and his brothers had started out. They were having a contest to see who could grow the biggest pumpkin. So when they were kids, you know, which now they’re in their fifties and sixties, uh, it started out, they were selling vegetables and then they went to see who could grow the vagus pumpkin. And then, um, his older brother kind of took it over as a, as a way to, um, get college money for his son. And then once his son got through college and we helped them with that also, then we did it for the same reason.

Mitch Negangard (07:19):
It’s funny. We were at a family get together a couple of weekends ago and one of my cousins asked, so when did the pumpkin patch actually start? And then it started the debate of, you know, when did it start and who started, what and who, who was, you know, the, the one that started this part. And we decided it was like the mid seventies, 74, 73, 75, somewhere in there. Uh, when they were all in high school, grown pumpkins, like my mom said, you know, comp competition is to grow the biggest one. Uh, neighbors will come by and buy it. And then it was kind of decided that, you know, there was a point where, uh, one of the younger brothers of my, the five, so there’s, there’s five in my, in my dad’s family. Um, him and four brothers, uh, when one of the younger ones went off to college, they kind of slowed down.

Mitch Negangard (08:02):
Um, and then like my mom said, my uncle Larry, the oldest, he started up the nightguard pumpkin patch, uh, for our college fund for my cousin, Darryl. Um, and they did it for years and years. It was probably in the early nineties when that actually started. Um, and I was born in 95, so it was probably, you know, before I was even born, they were doing a lot of this stuff. Um, and then it just kept on growing, like lush. My mom said word of mouth sooner or later, you’re sitting in a really fortunate situation where people love to come out and buy pumpkins and bring their families and have a great time.

Steve Holstein (08:32):
How many weeks typically? I mean, maybe it depends on your, uh, your harvest, but typically how many weeks does the pumpkin patch open?

Mitch Negangard (08:39):
Uh, so we’re usually mid to late September until Halloween. Uh, there’s some years where, you know, the crops not as good, or if we have, you know, more volume of customers than others, we, we run out of pumpkins. Uh we’re we’re getting to the point where we can handle, you know, mid-September all the way to the end. Um, it’s a month and a half of a lot of pumpkins.

Steve Holstein (09:00):
Do you guys grow anything else?

Mitch Negangard (09:02):
Yeah, so my dad does all the corn and beans and we have some alfalfa and some wheat and some oats. We grow some sunflowers. I mean, so we, we have a few animals, cows and pigs and goats. Uh, we have some chickens. So what my dad does is he does all the normal farm stuff where you see farmers around here grow. And then the pumpkins were me and my brother. And then once my brother, he just got job in Idaho. So that’s kind of hard to, you know, make that commute back every weekend. Uh, so he went to Idaho. So now it’s, it’s me with the pumpkins. And, uh, it’s kind of a nice little back and forth. I helped dad with his corn and beans, and then he comes down and helps me with the pumpkins. And, uh, you know, the family support is the best

Steve Holstein (09:43):
There is Pam, your son, other son, he moved to Idaho. Was he like, did he get a thing for potatoes or what?

Pam Negangard (09:49):
That’s what everybody always asking. [inaudible] he is a physical therapist. Oh yeah. So he went out there, he did his final clinical and Idaho and the company that he was working for, uh, offered him a job. Great. So he’s really into the hiking and the trail running and all that kind of things. And he was like, well, why not? You know, I’ve never, you know, he went out there and I never even having been the Idaho and loved it. So he is loving it out there. So he’s a physical therapist. He’s in twin falls, which is about an hour from Boise, but he is really enjoying it. I know he misses this time of year. You know, he really enjoyed the pumpkin’s, I’d pick in them and bringing him in all that kind of stuff. But I think he’s having a good time out there. Tell me about some

Steve Holstein (10:33):
Of the faces that you see regularly out here at the pumpkin patch.

Pam Negangard (10:36):
We, it’s always neat to hear people all, like they’ll, they’ll come out with their kids who are in junior high or high school. And they’re like, we’ve been bringing them here since they were one year old and that type of thing. And then you’ll have older people that come and they’re like, I brought my kids here, you know, when they were in grade school and now they’re grandparents, it’s really neat to see those people come back year after year after year, because, you know, if your customers don’t return, then there’s, there’s probably a problem, but we have a lot of returning customers. So that’s

Steve Holstein (11:05):
Honestly, if somebody is not returning, they’ve probably moved After the season is over. I mean, I bet you miss everybody, but it’s like, ah, we’ve got our farm back.

Pam Negangard (11:18):
It is, it’s a, it’s a, it’s so fun to see everybody, you know, you kind of look forward to it and getting everybody at the end. You’re like, okay, now I can kind of get back to my, uh, normal life of going back to the Y or doing whatever I want to do. And people are always like, what do you do when you’re retired? And I’m like, well, during pumpkin season, it’s all pumpkin. But after that, it’s pretty much whatever I want to do. You know? So, but it is a big relief, but you always start kind of thinking about different things you can do the next year, you know, and what you can improve on what you can’t, but it’s, it’s a great month and a half, but yeah, we’re a little tired at the end.

Steve Holstein (11:56):
Well, so like in radio, there are trade publications and trade emails and Facebook groups and podcasting. The same thing is that the deal with pumpkin patch owners, there’s gotta be, there’s probably like Facebook groups and newsletters and industry magazines where you get ideas and things like that.

Mitch Negangard (12:12):
Yeah. I mean, I’m sure there is, but you know, it’s funny, I’m actually not in many of the Facebook groups or whatever. I there’s some, uh, you know, foreign week magazines that you get and there’s, I got the U of I who specialized in pumpkins. Uh, so we get a lot of information from him. He’s a, he’s a professor. He specializes in, uh, the pumpkins and different types of vegetable stuff. Um, as far as how to handle different fungus’s or how to handle, you know, if you have a wet year or a dry year, I mean, he’s like, he’s awesome. His name’s Muhammad Buddhist that, um, I PR I may not be pronouncing that. Right. But he he’s awesome. He does a great job with it. And, uh, you know, this year there was a lot of rain and he wrote an article, uh, about this certain disease that was prevalent because of, you know, a web of what plant can cause this certain disease.

Mitch Negangard (12:57):
And so I shot him an email and he got back to me right away and sent me the information on it. And it, I mean, so really that’s, that’s kind of where I lean on as the guy like that. Um, and then, like I said, the family has been doing it for so many years since the mid seventies. So really a lot of the questions I bounced back towards them because, you know, if it’s happened, it’s probably happening to them at some point along the way. Um, so really that’s that those are my two big sources, family who has been doing it forever. And then I’m lucky enough to kind of fall into this place where all the hard work’s been done now, it’s, don’t screw it up. Uh, and then, like I said, the, the guy from the U of, I he’s been awesome too.

Steve Holstein (13:34):
You said you hope you pronouncing his name, right? Uh, Pam, how have people screwed up your last name?

Pam Negangard (13:40):
Oh boy, we have heard it all, you know, Nagin guard and again, guard. Yeah. Like the both boys were in sports and every time we went to an away game, if it got, it was pronounced differently, but yeah. Once they hear it and see how the smell, they’re like, oh, yeah. Are though, like, how do you spell that? And then I’ll spell. And they’re like, oh, it’s just like a sound, you know? So

Steve Holstein (14:00):
You remember the largest pumpkin that you’ve grown?

Mitch Negangard (14:04):
I I’ve been told, uh, you know, before I was born, they got up in the 200, 250 pound range, uh, last year or two, I can’t remember. Maybe it was two years ago. We had one that was like 195 pounds. So I mean, they get pretty good size, but the, the variety that we grow to get really big, they kind of max out that 200 pounds. Um, I actually got that little competitive edge to myself. Like I want to grow a really big one this year. So I, you know, we got a different variety of them and grew just a few of them to see how big they would get. And, uh, so being here, I haven’t got out into him yet. I haven’t seen him. Um, but we’ll see if they taught that 200 plus pound mark that we, that we usually typically max out at

Steve Holstein (14:44):
And what you sell it or keep it.

Mitch Negangard (14:47):
Uh, we’ll see, we’ll see how good a little, you know, if it’s, if it’s just real big and ugly, I, you know, I might just sell it if it’s, you know, real big, nice shave. Sometimes we send them up on the porch and kind of show it off like, well, you know, look how cool this pumpkin is. And, you know, people come by and, you know, we’ve even had things where, you know, we sell to a bank and they say, Hey, guests, the wait years, you know, they, they do different things with, with a big pumpkin, uh, you know, contest and whatnot. So, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of fun options with, with something like that. Uh, and like I said, as soon as I see it, we’ll kinda just see what, see what I feel like doing.

Steve Holstein (15:18):
So you, you, haven’t gone out there to look at it yet. Do you? So you don’t like just go out every morning with your cup of coffee and just walk the field of,

Mitch Negangard (15:27):
Because well, you see I’m out there about every day I drive by on the, on the four Wheeler and the truck. Um, but there still vines that kinda cover up the bottom half. So you don’t really know, you know, I kind of want to leave it alone and not damage any vines and kind of let the blooms and the bees and, you know, the different pollinators keep doing, doing their thing. Um, so you really know once you’re on top of it and you got it off the vine and you got it, you know, the stem off, and then you can take a good, hard look at it, but there’s some, there’s some pretty nice ones out there. There’s there. There’s some really nice pumpkins out there. Okay.

Steve Holstein (15:57):
And you like walk out there today or maybe a week ago or two weeks ago and say, okay, I know it’s 14 days or 20 days until we start harvesting. Can you do, do you kind of have that down?

Mitch Negangard (16:07):
It’s usually a beginning of September, late August. You know, we kind of see where the pumpkins are at. And we’re like, okay, you know, they’ll definitely be ready in two weeks or, you know, they’re, they’re going to, we’re going to open this weekend. And that’s when it’s going to be, uh, this year, this year, it was kind of funny how the weekends played out. It was either going to be the 25th of the 18th and you have to start picking a week before, you know, cause a lot of our help, you know, it’s, it’s a part-time job if you’re out here, it’s weekend work. Um, and we didn’t want to start picking on the 11th because we thought that was too soon. Uh, so we waited until the 18th to start picking, which, you know, it’d be nice if it was like the 15th we start and then the 22nd we open or, you know, whatever it might be. Um, but the way just the calendar played out, we decided, uh, the 25th was a good day and the 18th, they’d definitely all be ready to be picked. Um, so that’s usually kind of where it comes down to is when you can first get out there and start picking. And then the weekend after is when we opened,

Steve Holstein (17:01):
You know, you’ve got these pumpkins and you plant them in the, like you said, they just start to branch out and they just, they take on a life of their own. They grow wherever they want the length they want. When you’ve harvested. Have you ever been out there and gone? Where, what is this? I mean, you’ve spotted something that just does not.

Mitch Negangard (17:17):
Yeah, that’s really, it’s, it’s, it’s funny. You asked that the, the Wardee pumpkins, that’s actually how they started. They cross somehow between a pumpkin and a gourd or two different pumpkins, you know, somehow, but these pumpkins, they grew with warts on him and it was years and years and years ago. Um, and we started saving the seed year after year and we still do it. Um, and that’s actually where our warty pumpkins come from. You know, they popped up in the farm one year and then we decided, I think it was my uncle air was like, we need to save this because this is awesome. Like, people are gonna love this. And he was a hundred percent, right. Cause they’re of the most popular ones out there. And so every year we save seed and we, and we grow them. Uh, and he, he actually claimed many years ago, a guy tried to come and buy all of them.

Mitch Negangard (17:58):
You know, he’s like, this is this amazing one to buy him. And now you can find those pumpkins and catalogs. So, you know, whether we start overnights, it’s kind of funny to hear yourself with the idea that they started here. Uh, I’m sure it’s happened in many other pumpkin patches because you know, we’ll have it all the time where if you’re, if you have a squash next to a different squash and somehow they cross-pollinate and they come up with this alien looking pumpkin, you know, something that’s just totally out of this world, you know, it’s just every year it seems like something like that happens. Or there’s a, you know, two pumpkins that grow together. You know, they’re always really cool. One year we had three pumpkins that were grown together and it’s like, well, we got to keep this. This is too cool. I mean, so we had it inside as a real small one, but it was three pumpkins all grown together. And every year, just something different, like that pops up.

Steve Holstein (18:43):
Yeah. Yeah. Those are the ones you put on social media. Right? Pam,

Pam Negangard (18:47):
Absolutely look what we got. Yeah. And then when somebody comes out and they’re looking through the Gores and they find those gourds that are grown together or whatever, you know, it’s like, they’ve won the jackpot or whatever, you know, they love that

Steve Holstein (18:58):
You need to have a section. You’re the money person. You should have like one section for the really unique ones in charge, double, you know, those are those, your limited edition, 20, 21. Okay. You’re not going to get them next year. They’re going to look different.

Pam Negangard (19:12):
That’s a good idea.

Steve Holstein (19:15):
What about like, anything else, like, you know, did you ever have like airplane parts out in the field or anything like just weird stuff? I mean,

Mitch Negangard (19:22):
Uh, you know, not many airplane parts that that would be very cool. You know, it’d be awesome if it would be cool,

Steve Holstein (19:27):
It’d be scary.

Mitch Negangard (19:29):
Uh, we do get old farm equipment, like a, you know, like, cause you know, my dad was a farmer, his dad was a farmer. His dad was a farmer, you know, it goes back to like I said, four or five generations. Um, so it’s, it’s funny when, you know, like a, an old, you know, par off a combine or an old part off an old tiller or something pops up on the ground and you pick it up and you know, it’s this rusty chunk of metal and it’s, you know, way before my time. And I’m like, well dad, can you, can you identify this? And he’d do that soft, the 87 combined from the white whatever. And uh, so yeah, it’s usually funny. Yes. I thought that pops up and there’s usually rocks at surface. Sometimes the rocks are huge. Those there’s two big rocks by out here in front of you. And it’s like, it’s in some people find that as like a staple, they get a picture with their kid on that every year. And those actually come from the field, you know, that they just came out of ground and you know, you don’t want to hit it with any of your farm equipment. So we’d dig them up and put them in the yard or we got a rock pile. Um, but yeah, there’s usually some big rocks or some old farm equipment. And it’s, it’s amazing what you find that comes up the ground.

Steve Holstein (20:30):
So how, how does the harvest process work? Cause you know, you don’t have nice, neat rows of corn or beans.

Mitch Negangard (20:36):
What we do is we get crews of five to six guys, you know, mixture of family and friends and you know, high school kids, um, that come out and work for us. And we, you know, it’s all manual labor. So, you know, we cut them off the vine, you’d pick them up, you toss it down the assembly line, you stack them on the trailer, nice and tight to try to keep them from bouncing around and rolling around. And then we bring them up to the yard and unload them and then you go back and load them and then we come back and unload them. And it’s just a never ending process of, you know, picking an unpicking.

Steve Holstein (21:04):
And then Pam, is it your job to look at all the pumpkins and repair the blemishes and paint the bad spots.

Pam Negangard (21:11):
I point them out, usually in the mornings, we’ll walk through the patch and see which ones have, you know, gotten bad overnight or if they ride it or anything like that and try to get those out before people start coming,

Mitch Negangard (21:25):
As we feed these, you know, the ones that go bad, feed them to the cows and pigs and they love them. I mean, they get to the point where the cows will sit there in between or right by the gate and they’ll start balling. They’re like, we want some pumpkins. He’ll bring them down here. We’re hungry. That’s correct. Yeah. So, you know, it was great, you know, it’s, you know, you don’t want your pumps to go bad, but they don’t get to go to waste either. You know, we get, we just feed them to the livestock and uh, it’s, you know, it’s kind of efficient that way.

Pam Negangard (21:51):
And a few little, uh, fights out there, you know, they’re like, Hey, we want that. And the pigs were like, Hey, we want that. So they, they kind of, you find out who’s boss pretty quick.

Steve Holstein (22:00):
All right. So the cows like the pumpkins, do you have a favorite pumpkin food or do you have nothing pumpkin?

Pam Negangard (22:06):
We, my sister-in-law, she makes this squash cake. That is amazing. Yeah. We did a sunshine, sunshine squash. Yeah. And so we started growing those last year or a couple of years ago and uh, so she started making the sunshine cake and it’s pretty hard to beat.

Mitch Negangard (22:24):
I, like she said about the cake it’s, it’s really good. I mean, it’s, it’s in the kabocha family. Um, a lot of that squash is really good. There’s, there’s so many ways to cook it. There’s pumpkin seeds. Um, you know, I was in high school and a friend of mine is like, you’ve never had pumpkin seeds before. And I’m like, wow, I didn’t know. You could eat them now. I’m too, I’m too busy just trying to pick them and keep up. And so she made some for me and then they’re really good. Uh, but I would say my favorites, probably the spaghetti squash, the butternut squash, um, it’s, you know, for a long time I was, you know, anti pumpkin pie. I’m like, it’s, I don’t like I’ve had it so much. And now it’s kinda like, oh, I’m getting back into the, into the pies, into the squashes again, you know, your taste buds. I don’t know if they changed or whatever. Um, but it’s all good now. Like it’s funny, like, you know, growing up, it’s like, I’ve had so much pumpkin pie, you know, I can’t eat anymore. You know, you take some time off and we’re back eating all the pumpkin that we can.

Steve Holstein (23:13):
So Pam, when you’re on your way back from the Y I see you at the Y once in a while, and I know you go work out there when you’re on your way back. Do you ever have the urge to get a pumpkin spice latte or is that just like no way I’m never drinking that that’s not real.

Pam Negangard (23:25):
I do get it.

Steve Holstein (23:28):
I really didn’t think you would say that. I thought you were going to say, why would I drink that? I, I I’m in a world of real pumpkin?

Pam Negangard (23:34):
No, I know. I probably shouldn’t met, uh, this is another one of those fall drinks that you kind of,

Mitch Negangard (23:41):
Uh, the dairy barn does their pumpkin ice cream and it’s good. And it’s, it’s really good. I mean, it’s, you know, pumpkin flavor. It just seems like when you’re in the fall, it’s that time of year, you just get in the mood for that pumpkin flavor, the squash flavor, but the pumpkin ice cream is where I lean at.

Steve Holstein (23:58):
All right. I can’t think of anything else, guys.

Mitch Negangard (24:00):
That was awesome. That was great.

Steve Holstein (24:02):
And you can pray to get out in the patch and let’s go to the pumps to that scene. You’re going to head to the wires in a day off. I think I’m going to go for a bike ride then go to the Y tonight. All right. I’ll see you around there. See you, Pam.

Mitch Negangard (24:19):
What we do out here is we kind of have, we have six strips and we have, you know, areas that we can drive down. As you can see, the fines are covering, uh, the path of where we drive. So you ended up driving over a few vines. Um, but this is kind of where we start. We have in Cassie, the big ones coming up here. Um, and then as you go down into the right, they kind of go big to small, you know, so this is our, this is our big ones. Uh, some of our, some of our extra ones over here, we actually expanded another half strip. Um, so yeah, we’re kind of getting into the meat of it. Now you can kind of see these big orange ones popping over the hill, uh, on the end of these, is that the real big variety we were talking about seeing how big they could get.

Steve Holstein (25:08):

Mitch Negangard (25:10):
Yeah, you can kind of see. And it was really a great year. I mean, we had great rain. Um, we had some good temperature days. Uh, no, no bad weather to set them back. What variety is this again? So these are the, these are the biggest ones that we grow. They’re, they’re a prizewinner type. Um, you know, we, we like them because they have a great orange color to them. Uh, they get nice and big. They, they produce well. Um, they’re, they’re the ones that typically average out in that hundred and 20 to 170 range. Uh, people love to carve them. People like to put them on their front porch. So, you know, something real big, you know, and, and there were anywhere from, you know, a hundred pounds to 200 pounds typically. Uh, so you see these pink ones here and that blue one over there, those are the ones that were supposed to get really big, but they’re really about the same size as the other ones.

Mitch Negangard (26:05):
If not just a little bit smaller, it’s just one of those things, trial and error, you know, you grow something new and you kind of keep an eye on it. And, you know, if you try to space them out more next year or eclipse, some of the smaller ones off the vine. So a lot of that energy and, uh, or not the energy, but the nutrients go to that one, pumpkin, um, those white ones are gorgeous. Yeah. The why ones are they’re super, super popular and we’re getting into some of the flat white ones, which have been great for us. Um, you know, and the best part is we, we used to grow some that turned yellow, which, you know, they’re not quite, they don’t quite pop as good as the all white ones, but you know, these wild ones, they have such bright white color and they just stick out and they just look, there’s like really good.

Steve Holstein (26:47):
So we’re driving along the edge of the patch right now. I mean, there are pumpkins that are like right in the,

Mitch Negangard (26:54):
The tire track, but I think we just ran over a couple. Their, you know, they, they just keep growing and growing and growing out as long as they have, you know, adequate weather and, you know, good, you know, a good amount of rain, you know, they’ll, they’ll stay green and they’ll sell, they’ll sell, reach out. And, you know, we gotta drive down. Um, you know, we have to get through somehow. So you end up having to sacrifice a couple of the newer plants and the newer, you know, pumpkins that come on,

Mitch Negangard (27:24):
You can actually eat pumpkin blooms. I’ve never, I’ve never had them, but you know, we’ve had a guy come out here and clip them and he fries them up or bakes them up or whatever, and eats them. He said, they’re, they’re amazing. He said, you gotta try it. And every year, you know, it’s like, we think about, think about it, but you get so busy, you know, watching for weeds and, you know, making sure everything’s going all right, that we kind of forget about it, but, and there’s actually, there’s male and female blooms. So the male bloom pollinates, a female bloom and the female bloom actually becomes the pumpkin. Um, and he, and he can identify him and he makes sure that he only cuts the male blues because they’ll actually come back out. The plant will put a new one on, whereas the females become the pumpkin.

Mitch Negangard (28:08):
We, uh, we started raising bees and these are like, you know, it’s, it’s made a world of difference. Um, we had a neighbor a years past, I had a couple hives and then I think it was at least five years ago. You know, dad decided, you know what, let’s get some bees and let’s get, you know, there’ll be great for the pumpkins. We’ll sell the honey. Um, and about the same time without us even knowing our neighbor did the same thing, he’s like, I’m going to start raising bees. And he has, gosh, at one point he had close to 20 hives and you know, what they do to a, to a pollinating plant is incredible. I mean, they really help you out. And so he actually lives, you know, you see his house, that white house right there, just right next to the pumpkin patches.

Mitch Negangard (28:50):
It’s perfect. Um, so he’ll, he’ll bring his honey down and we’ll sell his honey form. And, you know, he’s always, you know, saying how appreciative we are, uh, you know, to help out with this honey, but it’s like, I don’t know if you realize how much your bees help the pumpkins. I mean, it’s, you know, what the bees do to a pumpkin patch is really, really good. I mean, it’s, it’s awesome. So I’m all for, you know, protect the bees and, you know, careful with, you know, different chemicals that people spray, you know, if anything, to keep these pollinators around, it’s, it’s a huge, huge help to gardens and, and, you know, large gardens, like what we had the pumpkin patch

Steve Holstein (29:29):
At what’s growing here are these weeds.

Mitch Negangard (29:30):
These are weeds. So this is, this is what I spend most of my summer doing is trying to control these things. And, you know, as we get this way, you know, we start over here and work this way. And, you know, we only get so far and, you know, it’s kind of a, they’re kind of a nuisance, but if they get out of control, they really, uh, can cause problems. They crowd out the pumpkin plants. Um, they can cause way fewer, um, pumpkins to be put on a vine. It was that this location it’d be four years ago. Cause every year we rotate the past, we, you know, you don’t want to grow the same crop year after year at one spot just to avoid different problems. Um, but it was right here in this exact area where we’re driving. As we had a bunch of them go to see the weeds and you know, you have to hear it’s a battle with them.

Mitch Negangard (30:18):
And that year that they popped up on us. I mean, you would walk 10 feet and not see a pumpkin just cause I took over, you know, luckily we’re getting to where, you know, they used to be thick all the way through the middle. Uh, but we’ve gotten to where the middles are getting cleaned up as the outsides that we’re, you know, we’re kind of battling now. So hopefully if we come back here in four years, we got a little bit more under control, but really where they’re at now, it’s, it’s not bad. This isn’t too bad. They’re, they’re not gonna affect, uh, how many pumpkins are on the plan, you know, as we drive along and you can see, they look ready. I mean, they, they look ready. They’re mature. Uh, usually they they’re, they’re green before they turn orange and there’s hardly any green ones out here.

Mitch Negangard (31:01):
I mean, they’re, they’re ready. I mean, they look good. Um, you know, we, we’ve had a really good year and you know, it’s said, you know, from the, from the car on the truck, you know where we’re driving, you can see pretty good. You really get to tell when you’re walking through them, you know, like over here, you can’t hardly see anything because the vines are thick. Um, but you know, that’s when you kind of, when you were walking through and you’re cutting the pumpkins off the plant, that’s when you really get a good idea of what’s going on.

Steve Holstein (31:27):
And so you will harvest every weekend right up until

Mitch Negangard (31:32):
Yeah. Every weekend. So we’ll go. And even throughout the week, you know, I got an uncle who he just retired a couple of years back and he’s the one who started the pumpkin patch for a son, uh, the college fund. And so he, you know, he loves doing it. He’s, he’s all about it. Um, so he’ll, he’ll come out here and help me throughout the week kind of picking the small stuff. And if we need to get a few things, um, so yeah, we’ll do a little bit throughout the week, but, but our big, our big labor comes on the weekends when we have more help than the high school kids and guys for, you know, not doing their normal jobs and come out and give us a hand,

Steve Holstein (32:12):
Hey, if you’d like to reach me, my email is steve@holstein.ceo. If you’d like to check out older episodes, you can find them in your podcast app or@holstein.co. If you’re listening to this podcast in an app, I encourage you to press the follow or subscribe button. And if your podcast app offers a way to provide a review, I would greatly appreciate that. I’m Steve. And this was the Holstein company podcast. Thanks for listening. Have a great week. And I will see you around town.