Garden · Plants

Almanzo Wilder & the Milk-Fed Pumpkin


When I was a little girl, the first book I ever liked was Little House on the Prairie. From the minute I picked it up onwards, I was rarely without a book. And after I finished reading all about Laura Ingalls and Mary and Carrie and Grace and Ma and Pa While little Laura Ingalls was living on the prairie with Ma and Pa and Mary and Carrie, her husband-to-be, Almanzo Wilder, was growing up on a farm somewhere in Minnesota. The stories from his childhood that are captured in Farm Boy have always vibrantly stood out to me, in particular, the story of the milk-fed pumpkin. When he was young, Almanzo grew a pumpkin to enter into a competition at the fair. To make his pumpkin grow large, he fed it on milk, through a small cut in the vine. When he won first prize for the largest pumpkin at the fair, he received 50¢, and he used it to buy a pig.

Yesterday, when I cleaned out the fridge and found an old half-gallon of organic milk, the first thought in my mind was, “Almanzo Wilder and the milk-fed pumpkin.” Sadly, I don’t have any pumpkins growing in my garden right now (though maybe I’ll try it on some watermelons this summer). But for now, milk makes a great additive to your garden when you dilute it with some water. Not only does it add calcium to your soil, but it also helps your leaves and plants stay healthy and bug-free. Just add the milk into the water until you have 10-50% milk. Then you can water-milk you plants. Some people like to spray it on the leaves in addition to the soil to deter bugs from the leaves, but I like sprinkling it on the soil and then water the soil down so that the smell of milk doesn’t linger in the garden.

One thought on “Almanzo Wilder & the Milk-Fed Pumpkin

  1. I remember reading this when I was a little girl and it has stayed with me. As a result, I’ve dreamed of growing a milk fed pumpkin for decades! We even grew pumpkins when I was a child, but no one ever agreed to let me try this. I will one day.I love that this story resonated with someone else too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s