Ripe for the pickin’ at Bucy’s Pumpkins

Tess Nelson
The Red Oak Express

Roughly 20 varieties of pumpkins in all shapes, sizes, and colors, are available for purchase at Bucy’s Pumpkins, located just south of Red Oak.
Kelli and Derrick Bucy have been growing pumpkins for several years, but two years ago they drastically expanded the size of the patch.
“We used to have the area baled by Tony Johnson, but it didn’t produce much alfalfa, so Derrick plowed it up and we planted more pumpkins,” Kelli said.
Varieties of pumpkins grown by the Bucys include Warty Goblin, Big Man, Gardell, Wolf, Jarrahdale, Turk’s Turban, Prize Winner, Porcelain Doll, Polar Bear, Igor, Midnight, Sunshine, Popcorn and Lemonade. However, Kelli’s favorite is a nice, big jack-o-lantern with lots of ribs in it.
“To me, it’s just beautiful.”
Kelli starts the seeds in a little greenhouse towards the end of April. She purchases new seed from well-known nurseries and nurtures them inside until after Mother’s Day weekend. To figure out exactly when the seeds should be planted, she relies on a calendar and how many days it takes each variety to grow. She said most varieties are 80 to 90 days, but some are as much as 110 days growth.
“Plants get shocked when they come from a warm environment and they’re stuck in the barren ground and expected to grow,” Kelli said.  “Usually Mother’s Day weekend is the last really cold spell.”
When planting outside, Kelli said she and Derrick run a string line with 35 plants every six feet, running 12 feet long.
Birds and ants are known for stealing newly planted seed, Kelli warned, while raccoons, deer and insects cause issues until harvest.
In addition to new seed, Kelli said it is important to water the newly planted pumpkins almost excessively. She soaks the soil with water before and after putting the plant in the ground.
“If you are having difficulty growing pumpkins, it is most likely the seed. Seed makes a big difference,” Kelli said. “And when I plant, I drown them in water, but that is pretty much all they get from me. The rest is up to Mother Nature. “
If it is really hot and dry in the summer, she will drag a hose down to the patch and watch out for the plants that are struggling. During the hot, dry summer months, she also protects the plants from insects.
“I’d get up early each morning this summer and check the leaves for bugs. I had a bucket of soapy water and I’d take a knife and scrape the insect eggs off the leaves and into the soapy water. It was very tedious, but necessary.”
Kelley said the hot, dry weather might have played a role in her growing fewer pumpkins this year than last. It also wreaked havoc on her goal of growing an entry for the Iowa State Fair’s largest pumpkin contest.
“I entered potatoes this year and won first place and I wasn’t even trying, but my pumpkins didn’t grow as big as I needed them to.”
Bucy’s Pumpkins are located at 2163 Hazel Dr., Red Oak. Hours are 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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