MILLTOWN, NJ - Linus, Snoopy and Sally don't have any farther than Milltown to look for the sincerest pumpkin patch in the Garden State. A growing pumpkin patch on the front lawn of Heath and Cassie Doherty's Crestwood Drive home is fast becoming the neighborhood hot spot. The Milltown couple has lived in the borough for a little over a year with their dog Fiona. Last Halloween, squirrels and chipmunks made a pre-winter snack of the Doherty's fall decorative display on their front porch. The display included white and orange pumpkins. Earlier this summer, the Doherty's noticed what they originally thought was weeds. Later, they realized they were actually pumpkin vines.
"All of a sudden, they just started sprouting all over our yard," Cassie Doherty explained. "So, we started pulling them out, and then we said you know let's see if one of them will actually grow pumpkins and it has turned into this massive vine. We are expecting that we are going to have quite a bit of pumpkins."
It didn't take long for the vine to take hold in the couple's flower bed and spread. The growing vine is actually a mixture of white and orange pumpkins. With only water, sunshine and a little Miracle-Gro, the vine took off like wildfire.
"We just left the biggest one that we saw to see how it would do, not realizing that it would get this big," Cassie Doherty said with a laugh. "By the fall, we might have a front yard filled with pumpkins."
"There are 10 you can visibly see and there are probably 50 blooms ready to go," Heath Doherty added.
The couple has a growing vegetable garden in the backyard, but Cassie Doherty wasn't so sure early on that she was ready to dive into adding pumpkins to the mix, but her husband was invested.
"At first, I was a little reluctant, but he was all for it," she said.
Now, they are both delighted and fascinated by the growing vine and so is the neighborhood.
"In one days time, this will grow anywhere from a foot to three feet," Heath Doherty said of the vine. "All the kids on the block are very much liking that they can come over and pick out their own."
Fiona doesn't mind sharing the front lawn with the blossoming pumpkin patch. She really only pays attention to it when she spots a rabbit sniffing about amongst the large leaves. However, the good-natured pooch did learn the hard way that pumpkin vines are very prickly.
The Doherty's are learning that the white pumpkins come from the vine leaves with white on them while the traditional orange ones grow from the bright green leaves. A large orange pumpkin will probably need to be picked way soon so it doesn't begin to rot. A neighbor suggested the couple try chopping up a newly formed flower and adding it to eggs for a splash of pumpkin. Apparently the taste from the bloom is stronger than from the actual pumpkin. The Doherty's haven't tried it yet, but plan to.
In the evening and before the heat of the day builds, the patch sits in its glory with the vine's leaves standing tall and proud, making this the sincerest pumpkin patch around. So, take note Linus, Snoopy and Charlie Brown, the Great Pumpkin just might be stopping by Milltown this Halloween eve and if not, there will be plenty of jack-o-lanterns lighting up Crestwood Drive courtesy of the Doherty's Pumpkin Patch.