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Pumpkins mean people

Ashley Belknap shows off some of her many multi-colored pumpkins that she grew in her backyard in North Jackson.

Novice pumpkin grower Ashley Belknap has sold more than 200 pumpkins this year in her north Jackson front yard — some of them with a unique blue color.

Belknap said she really “met the neighborhood” through her pumpkin stand as people from all over Jackson turned out to buy yellow, green, white, blue and traditional orange pumpkins and gourds. Belknap advertised by putting signs on the ends of the street, but one customer’s Facebook post really made it take off.

Ashley’s husband, John Belknap, who grew up with big family gardens in Crystal Springs, taught her how to grow pumpkins and other fall vegetables.

Some neighbors even asked her to start a farmers market in the front yard with the corn, butter beans, okra and other vegetables.

With prices ranging from 25 cents to $5 the goal wasn’t really to make money, Belknap said. “I just sell them to folks so they can enjoy them. Some of them want the warty ones that are really ugly because they think they’re fun. Some of the kids want the smallest ones because they’re the smallest in their family.”

Last fall the Belknaps bought pumpkins from a farmers market and saved the seeds by drying them and storing them in refrigerator to prevent mold. In July they planted nine rows of pumpkin seeds with 10 “hills” consisting of four seeds each.

She hopes to grow big jack-o-lantern-sized pumpkins next year and also incorporate an armadillo trap to ensure the safe arrival of sweet potatoes.

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