Farm Crops

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DID YOU KNOW?

  • Gammondale Farm has been growing fresh fruits and vegetables for over 40 years in the Slate River Valley, Northwestern Ontario
  • 40 varieties of pumpkins and squash are grown across 15 acres of farm land
  • 50 tonnes (100,000 lbs) of pumpkin and squash is grown each year.

Squash, Pumpkins and Gourds

Preparation for planting begins as soon as the snow melts and the ground is dry enough to work using a tractor, which is usually in early May. The plastic from the previous year is pulled off by hand. This is the best “Dirty Job” ever!

New plastic mulch is laid out in strips by a machine. This plastic mulch controls weeds, warms the soil and helps maintain the moisture near the roots of the plants.

Planting the seeds begins late in May after the risk of frost because all squash, pumpkin and gourd plants are killed by temperatures below 0 Celsius. The farmer walks along the plastic with a hand held tool that punches a hole in the plastic. The farmers drops the seeds into the tool which then covers the seeds with soil.

In about 10 days, a small 2-leaf plant pokes up through the hole in the plastic, followed by big leaves on a vine.

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Weeding Squash and Pumpkins

The fields are weeded with machines before the vines spread out past the plastic. Pretty soon the whole field is covered by vines and huge green leaves!

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Pollinating Squash and Pumpkins

In Slate River, blossoming starts in mid-July. Pollination is critical for Squash and Pumpkins. Bees and other pollinators are essential and there are usually enough honey bees near Gammondale to get the job done. If the bees are not around when the flowers first come, young students are hired to hand pollinate the pumpkins to ensure an early set of “fruit”. We call it a “Pumpkin Dating Service”!


Identifying Blooms

Male and female pumpkin blooms are easy to identify, once you know the difference. The male bloom appears on a slender stem that ranges from several inches to up to 1 foot long. The female bloom, on the other hand, forms close to the base of the plant with a miniature pumpkin at the base.


Male Pumpkin Blossoms

Male blooms on a foot-long stem have a central stamen with yellow powdery pollen and they appear first on the pumpkin vine. Although each bloom lasts only until mid-afternoon, new male blooms open each morning to attract bees. Their first job is to announce to the insect world that fresh pollen is available so the bees establish a pathway to the garden before the female blooms open. Their second job, of course, it to provide the pollen needed to pollinate the female blooms to create baby pumpkins. Your pumpkin vine may produce a series of male blooms for a week or more before the female blooms grace the vine.

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Here Come the Females

Female blooms attached to the vine by a very short stem, open in the morning and shrivel by late afternoon. Pollination starts the growth of the baby squash or pumpkin when the pollen touches the sticky stigma in the centre of the flower. The tiny, swollen ovary at the base of the flower begins to grow as soon as the female bloom is pollinated by bees. If the blossom is not pollinated, or is partially pollinated, the tiny pumpkin shrivels and drops from the vine. New female blooms continue to open each day for weeks, ensuring a bountiful crop of pumpkins.

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Harvesting Pumpkin Blooms

You can eat fried or stuffed pumpkin blossoms as summer delicacy. Under normal conditions, harvesting male blossoms around noon before they shrivel up does not pose a problem for pumpkin production because pumpkin vines produce many more male blooms than female blooms. Some prefer to wait until several young pumpkins have already formed on the vine before harvesting pumpkin blossoms to eat, eliminating the risk of interfering with pumpkin production.

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Harvesting Squash and Pumpkins

Harvesting ripe and colourful squash and pumpkins begins by mid-September before the risk of a killing frost. School kids come after school and weekends to harvest the vegetables and bring them up to the farmyard. WOW! Squash and Pumpkins are so colourful! It looks so beautiful!


Gammondale Strawberries: A delecious History

For over 30 years the fields of Gammondale Farm produced some of the most delicious strawberries in Ontario. Families from around the region flocked to Gammondale Farm to ‘pick-your-own’ strawberries. For many families it became a yearly tradition and a family event.

The last strawberries were picked in 2006. Big, juicy strawberries that visitors picked themselves and then they relaxed at the farm while children could visit the farm animals or have a pony ride and an strawberry sundae! Over the years, Gammondale Farm employed hundreds of youth who planted, weeded, mulched and sold the strawberries. Many returned as adults to say thank you for the best job they ever had!

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Location

426 McCluskey Drive
Slate River, Ontario
P7J 0B3
(near Thunder Bay)

GPS: N48 18.48 W89 30.95

Take Hwy 61 south, about 15km from the Airport, turn right onto McCluskey Drive. Then follow the Gammondale signs straight ahead for 4km. Gammondale Farm is on the right hand side. We hope you enjoy the beautiful countryside on your way over.

Contact Us

T: 807.475.5615
E: farmfun@tbaytel.net

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