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Crop diversification opportunities

If you get rich on either of these ideas, Lee Hart wants either fruit or a piece of pie

White and blue are just two of the new modern pumpkin colours. Who knew?

With an ongoing commitment to bring farmers new cropping ideas, I have two. The first one I consider a sleeper crop… literally. The second falls into the category of “who knew?”

If you are interested in a high value, slow return crop I recommend avocados. It is truly a sleeper, or plant-and-go-fishing, or plant and then get a six-month, off-farm job, come back and see if anything has happened type of crop.

Personal experience — my son eats lots of avocados. They are good for you. They have monounsaturated fat, which may help promote normal blood cholesterol levels. They also supply antioxidants. I like them made into guacamole with plenty of tortilla chips — a dollop of sour cream is great too.

He decided it would be a great idea to grow an avocado plant from the pit. Seems to me we tried this when he was small 25 years ago too, with minimal success, but I forget. For germination, submerge half of the pit in a glass of water and wait. Once it sprouts, then you plant in soil. How hard can that be? Not hard, but don’t get in a rush.

I think it took at least three months in water for some noticeable root to appear and finally a tiny shoot breaking through the top of the pit. I planted it in soil. It has been nearly a month now, and the stalk is about four inches tall, and my eyes may be deceiving me, but it appears it may be ready to open a leaf.

We started this project in July. He was hoping to have fruit by December. With avocados costing about $1 each at the grocery store, homegrown fruit would really help cut down on his grocery bill. Well, we’ll be lucky if there is a leaf by December let alone fruit. I don’t know how these things flourish in a natural environment, avocado growers must have imaginable patience. But, if you are looking for a crop to plant and forget, I recommend avocados.

It’s all about colour

Continuing on the horticulture theme, the next opportunity to catch my attention was white pumpkins. Yes white pumpkins. Who knew? I get a fruit grower magazine written and edited by my friend Karen Davidson, (a former field editor with Canadian Cattlemen Magazine). In the last issue of Ontario Fruit Grower in a listing of new varieties to watch for, Stoke’s Seeds had a new white pumpkin variety.

Ever since I did a story on black Charolais cattle a few years ago, I thought my career had peaked on the colour-change movement. It hadn’t. Looking online it appears white pumpkins have been around for a while. In fact, forget orange it’s old news. Pumpkins are also available in white, green, yellow, red, blue and even tan-coloured shells. Again, who knew? And more importantly perhaps “why?”

It’s all about decoration. All these great, odd pumpkin colours apparently makes our two-month-long holiday extravaganza known as Halloween (what happened to the one night event?) much more fun and exciting — can’t get enough of that. And if you are looking for a distinctive centerpiece for an upcoming wedding, funeral, or CWB resurrection meeting don’t over look white pumpkins.

I don’t know what I would do if someone served me a piece of white, blue, or red pumpkin pie. Well, I would definitely eat it, but how would I feel? Would I feel satisfied, or cheated, or tricked? I would probably need a second piece and just keep my eyes closed, to see if it made a difference.

But what’s next? If John Deere starts introducing a new line of red, blue or yellow farm tractors I may just have to look at another career. Some changes I don’t handle well.

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.



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