If you're reading this, the chances are you've already heard - we haven't got pumpkins to pick from the patch this year. Although this doesn't spell the end for this year's pumpkin season, I know the lack of proper picking will be disappointing news to many of you. And so the least I can do is write this post to explain what's happened to our patch, what will and won't be happening on the farm this October and what this means for you our visitors and for us at the farm.
In mid-May 2019 we planted 13,000+ pumpkin plants across our two pumpkin patches. Nearly 5 acres of plants ready to spend their summer growing in the sunshine…
But this year it’s not gone to plan. Shortly after planting, we were drenched by day after day of heavy rain for the first two weeks of June. Our little pumpkin plants hadn’t had enough time to become properly established and their roots weren’t able to cope with the soaking soil. We hoped they would recover as the summer weather improved but to our dismay the majority just died away.
It would be wrong to blame it all on the rain – it will have been a combination of the weather, the precise timing of our planting and our soil type, but either way the result is the same. We estimate that only 2% of the pumpkins (and 0% of our squashes) survived. A near total crop failure for only the second time in 30+ years of pumpkin farming.
As I write this at the start of September, we’ve made the following plans for pumpkin season on the farm...
We will still go ahead and fill our massive polytunnel with thousands of pumpkins of all different sizes. We’re lucky to have a network of friendly local farmers who will supply us with as many pumpkins as possible, letting us create an indoor pumpkin bonanza just as we’ve always done. And as ever, we’ve been busy designing new decorations for our spooky entrance and creative backdrops for unique photo opportunities.
Our carving arena will be in full swing as usual too. We know 1000s of children look forward to carving their pumpkins here each year, and 1000s of parents appreciate leaving the mess with us! Winnie the Witch will be on-hand to help you design your master-piece and the so the pumpkin festival atmosphere in the carving tent will be alive and well!
“Crop failure” are possibly the worst two words in any farmer’s dictionary. But the reality is: this is part of farming. It’s something every farmer around the world will experience several times in their lives. It’s never a good situation to be in and it’s even worse when you’re letting down thousands of enthusiastic pumpkin pickers. But it’s something we’ve experienced before and will again. When you’re working with nature these things can happen. As my dad would say: "It's one of the joys of farming!"