This year, Mollie Stone’s is sourcing our unique selection of more than 15 different pumpkin and gourd varietals from a well-known grower in Fairfield’s Suisun Valley named Larry Balestra. Larry is a 3rd generation grower with an old-fashioned philosophy about farming, taking time, nurturing and trusting with every crop.
Keep reading to learn more about how pumpkins are grown!
Larry grows both Hybrid (propagated by graft or cuttings) and Heirlom varieties. The definition of “heirloom” is a somewhat controversial topic. It’s best described from our perspective as something that is reproduced from open-pollination and carries the heritage of seeds from plants from more than 50 years ago. The controversy is usually about from which era the seeds come. Still another way of defining an heirloom is a plant that has been nurtured, selected and handed down from one family member to another for many generations.
We visited Larry’s pumpkin patch just before the harvest and learned a few other interesting facts about pumpkins:
- Pumpkins are a fruit and are 90% water.
- Pumpkins are monoescious, meaning that each plant has both male and female flowers. The pollination of the plant depends on the honey bee and requires extraordinary timing, as the female flowers only open for a short time at night.
- Contrary to what you might think, pumpkins are a delicate crop because they bruise very easily. Every pumpkin must be hand-picked and handled with care.
- They are also sensitive to sunlight (especially the lighter colored varieties like the White pumpkin). Since they can get “sunburned,” it’s best to keep them in a shaded area to ensure that they last through the season.