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When Amateurs Get a Surprise!!!!

August 30, 2012

What do you do when you have a lot of bare land in the countryside, and you work and live in the city? You just try something new with no knowledge of the outcome.  This is what recently happened to my HS friend, Franca, and her family, and what a surprise they got!

At first, they had no idea what to plant.  Then their son, Giansalvo,now a young adult, made a suggestion.  As he told me, he had visited a friend as a child whose grandfather had a pumpkin patch.  Unfortunately, the grandfather did not allow the children to touch any of the pumpkins and this was a childhood experience that Giansalvo had never forgotten.  Consequently, when the family was deciding what to do with the bare land they had acquired through inheritance, Giansalvo exclaimed: “Pumpkins!!!!!!!!!!!!”.

To many, pumpkin patches are fun places to visit. I remember my own children, Charlie and I going to pick our own pumpkins in Virginia and enjoying the experience, then going home to bake the goodies and carve the pumpkins.  However, growing up in a city in Sicily, I had never seen a pumpkin patch or even heard of one before moving to the USA in the 80’s.  So off I went yesterday with my friend and her husband to visit their pumpkin patch in the Piana di Catania, Catania Plains.

Franca proudly explained the way they had planted the seeds, in rows two metres apart, and the watering system they used.  The black hoses placed along the 103 rows where they planted the seeds, three in each spot, 2 metres apart.  One and one half hectares of pumpkin seeds planted. When this was all done on April 24th, they had no idea what the outcome would be.

What a surprise, for these amateurs, when within a few months, they were harvesting 3,000 kilograms of pumpkins!!!!  As they retold the story I could still perceive the sense of awe.  Franca and I walked along the rows and observed the different pumpkins.  She is very proud of the first row, which she planted in a straight line.   One of Franca’s questions, yet unanswered, is why from the same types of seeds in a cluster the size of the pumpkins at their final stage can be so different.  Perhaps the amount of water each absorbed? I know the feeling of planting from seed (in my case at a much smaller scale) and enjoying the creatures grow!

They planted three varieties of pumpkins, two of foreign origin, Moscato di Porvenza and Hokkaido, and one, Pepone Maximo, a Sicilian variety.  The Moscato grows to 4-5 kilos, in the shape of a turban, with a flat top.    The hokkaido, japanese origin, is very orange and great to eat raw on salads.  Finally, the Pepone Maximo, Sicilian origin, can reach 10 kilos, has a much more rounded shape and is not flat on the top.

Franca and her family are having a great time exploring this new venue and it was so much fun visiting their farm!  I look forward to my next visit, perhaps to lend a hand!!!!!!!!!

















From → Food in Sicily

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