By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A visit to the pumpkin patch is a fall tradition for so many families. Children can take hayrides, drink apple cider and pick their own pumpkin among the many that sit in the field.

Val Wittmer, owner of Lendt’s Pumpkin Patch in Wyoming, loves it. And, every year, customers ask – did you put the pumpkins where they are?

“Can you imagine,” she says. ‘There’s 40 acres here, we didn’t put them there, they grew there and they have to pull the vine off of the stem.”

All of the pumpkins in her patch started as single seeds that Wittmer herself planted herself in the beginning of June.

“People think that pumpkins grow in the weeds, and that when this pumpkin rots, that next spring it will just come back another pumpkin,” she said. That’s not the case.

Once the seed sprouts, the plant gets bigger and bushier and eventually starts to send out vines. By early July, there’s a flower that opens for one day for four hours. It needs to be pollinated five or six times. Lendt’s has bees on-site to help with that process.

“Right behind the flowers, once it’s pollinated, it starts growing a pumpkin, and just gets bigger and bigger,” Wittner said. “The flower dies and falls off, and the pumpkin just keeps growing.”

Many varieties start out green before turning orange. That’s when the leaves start falling, exposing the pumpkins for everyone to pick their own.

People also ask Val what happens to the pumpkins that aren’t sold. Turns out they make good fertilizer.

“We leave them here and they get disked in the fall, and it is good for the ground to have that rotten matter,” Wittner said.

Lendt’s is open seven days a week until Oct. 31, from 9 a.m. to dusk.

Heather Brown