Let me introduce you to my dad, Don Powell. He is the third generation owner of Garland Nursery. Garland Nursery was actually established the year he was born. He and my mom greatly expanded the nursery when they took over the operation. Dad was involved with the Oregon Association of Nurseries, finally serving as president in the late seventies. I love my dad. He is my mentor and a man I greatly respect. Dad worked hard all his life. He is a very creative individual and spent a lot of his time designing landscapes and creating great displays. When he needed to take a break from the demands of the business, we would find him on the tractor. He is a farmer at heart, having spent many summers in his youth helping with farming the additional 80 acres of the Schmidt farm. So when he “retired”, he still needed something to keep him busy. That’s when the pumpkin growing began.
Growing up, every year we planted a big vegetable garden, including corm and pumpkins. I have very fond memories of planting, weeding, and harvesting. Dad saw a great potential to grow and sell pumpkins and gourds for fall decorating. We have been composting for decades for our own use. When Dad first decided to plant something, he spread yards of compost to establish that first garden. When the ground was ready, he planted his first crop. From there he just kept tweaking things ever so slightly until we got to our current growing operation.
He considered all the varieties he could grow. Of course he had to grow the standards. There were some more unusual varieties that you just don’t find available in most places, so he grew those too. Each year he selects seed carefully checking to see if there are any new varieties available. Then he starts the seed in his greenhouse. He was sharing with our Garland Grown bedding plant house, but they didn’t have much space available. When the soil temperature has warmed up and the air temperature is in a good range, he sets the starts out in the ground in an area by his house. A year or so into this growing endeavor, he put down weed barrier and installed drip irrigation ( with the help of another retired vegetable grower). Initially there is still some weeding right around the plants until they grow big enough to out compete the weeds. Dad has help with this portion, too. The plants grow and start setting the pumpkins, which grow and start to color up. Surprisingly, this was not a bad year for pumpkins. It seemed like our season was so short and wet, I thought we might not have any, but that was not the case.
This year the Cinderella pumpkins out did themselves and we have quite a lot. Cinderellas are fatter and have a reddish tone. They look like the fairytale illustration of Cinderella’s carriage, hence the name. Also, they make great pumpkin pie. They are wonderful contrast to the standard sugar pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns. Another one in abundance this year is the Jarrahdale. Dad started growing this one just a few years ago. It has the blue color of a Hubbard squash and prominent ridging. It too makes a nice contrast with the Cinderellas and standard pumpkins. It is good pie material as well. For the first time dad planted a French pumpkin. It is flatter, buff in color with some blue highlights. It did so well, we need to grow more next year. The white standard sized pumpkins either didn’t produce as many or we didn’t plant enough. They are very popular and I think we will have to increase dad’s pumpkin fields. Another type that usually had in abundance but didn’t this year is the swan and dipper gourds. Hopefully, next year will be better. The winged gourds dad planted were really cool and we have those in abundance.
When the pumpkins and gourds are ready for harvest, dad picks them, cleans them, and places them in plastic crates under cover. He brings enough up to decorate the space we have open for him, adding more as additional space becomes available. Each day he comes up to the store and checks to see what has sold and restocks. Usually his dog Francis (or Frankie) accompanies him. Dad is very pleased and excited with his pumpkins start to sell. It’s very cute. So come out and see what Dad grew. We did buy in some mini-pumpkins and different gourds and Indian corn from another family operation in the Willamette Valley. Dad likes decaf coffee and enjoys chatting and giving good advice. He knows a lot about more that just pumpkins. you let him know if there is another variety we should grow. Or, if you are an old friend, just stop by to say hi!