At their October meeting, 11 members of the Great Bend Garden Club were amazed at the interesting varieties of pumpkins, squash and gourds that are grown and sold each fall at the Long Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze along the Barton Community College road (NE 30 Road). For the last 15 years, Dana Long and her husband have opened their patch for fall pumpkin sales as well as hosting church groups, birthday parties, small weddings and school field trips. They have a corn maze, buggy rides, a corn-kernel “sandbox,” a sling-shot with gourds game, a culvert swing that held a whole kindergarten class, and other Halloween fun.
There are four acres of seeds planted during the month of June with over 40 varieties of pumpkins, squash and gourds. The Longs are members of an agricultural “No Till on the Plains” organization and leave the un-picked fruit and vines to over-winter. They rotate the crop to a different field each year. They reseed, with new seeds, the different varieties in different rows. They plant a few flowers nearby to help attract the bees that pollinate the crop.
Some varieties are edible. Good choices for pies include the unusual greenish-grey Jaharrdale variety of pumpkin and a light orange variety called Winter Luxury. Many of the squash varieties come from around the world (Japan, South America, France, Italy) and are good for cooking.
Decorative pumpkins, squash and gourds come in many varieties and colors. There are orange, green, pink, yellow and white ones, multicolored ones, warty looking ones, huge ones weighing up to 40 pounds, and very small ones. They are sold according to weight. An extremely unusual one is called the Lakota, which has been devolved back into one similar to the Native American pumpkins. It is medium sized and colored a pale orange with a rough textured black coating.
A short business meeting followed the program.
The next meeting will be at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, in the meeting room of the Cottonwood Extension Service building. Carol Woodmansee will be hostess and a program on Great Bend’s Community Beautification projects will be given by Deon Lupton. Visitors are welcome.