About 20 Pacific Palisades residents who planted pumpkin plants under the tutelage of Bruce Schwartz have now harvested them.
Back in April, Schwartz, a local realtor and the 2017 Citizen of the Year (in part for his efforts to landscape the median strip on Sunset at Chautauqua), offered pumpkin plants–Dill’s Atlantic Giant—to any resident who wanted them.
In our Circling the News story (“Bruce Schwartz Will Help You Grow Giant Pumpkins in Your Backyard”), he said, “The pumpkins will grow really big. And if you grow them in your backyard, you should have a way to get them out.” Schwartz assured CTN that it was an easy plant to grow and kids would love watching the progress.
How big would they grow? In pumpkin-growing contests held around the country, Schwartz said, this species generally has a fruit yield of 200 to 1,000 pounds.
My plant managed to produce two pumpkins in my front yard on Radcliffe, each about the size of a basketball. Rabbits ate two other pumpkins before they could reach maturity.
Schwartz said that squirrels and rabbits seem to like pumpkin plants and recommended scattering moth balls around them next year; this doesn’t hurt the plants and seems to deter wildlife.
Farmer Schwartz also said he was disappointed about the size of the pumpkins that were grown in yards. “Turns out we planted the wrong variety and at the wrong time,” he said. “We should have grown Big Max pumpkins and should have emphasized that they require a lot of sunlight to grow successfully.”
Former Citizen of the Year Sharon Kilbride told CTN that she planted pumpkins in the Marquez Cemetery in Santa Monica Canyon and came up with a bumper crop.
The nice sunny location on top of hill was perfect for growing. “I grew two huge ones and about 10 small ones that I have been giving to the neighbors,” Kilbride said.
“I grew two pumpkins, and both are now on my front porch!” said former Pacific Palisades Community Council President Barbara Kohn, who said this was the first time she tried growing pumpkins.
She documented the pumpkins’ growth, taking photos when Schwartz first planted the tiny plant and continuing each week after until the pumpkins were harvested. “I would do it again,” Kohn said.
Schwartz had hoped that enough people could grow large pumpkins that could be donated to the YMCA’s Pumpkin Patch and then sold. Instead, he said, “People were so thrilled with their pumpkins, they didn’t want to give them away.”
Schwartz once again planted a patch on Pacific Coast Highway near Sunset and harvested some “big” pumpkins, which he donated to the Y.
“They’ve already been sold,” he said, and noted that the owners of “Palisades Electric and the 76 Station should be thanked for the water and allowing vegetables to be grown in the parkways.” Onions have now been planted in those areas.