Pumpkin princess: Hawkins girl's first patch yields 287 pumpkins

Jeff Bobo • Oct 24, 2019 at 11:53 PM

ROGERSVILLE — Seven-year-old Paisley Evans inherited her grandfather's green thumb, which translated into a huge bounty of big orange pumpkins that were harvested this month from the Hawkins County patch they work together.

Paisley grew 287 pumpkins on about five acres at her grandfather's farm in the Grassy Creek community of Hawkins County.

She gave most of them away to friends and neighbors, the cows got a few and she carved up five pumpkins herself.

The rest went toward a special cause.

“My favorite part of growing pumpkins is for my (great-grandmother) Mamaw Lovely to make me pumpkin pie,” Paisley said. “She's 89 and she makes the best. They taste better than any of the stores.”

Paisley’s mom, Amanda Benton, works long hours in the medical field, so she and her two sisters spend a lot of time on her grandparents’ Grassy Creek farm.

Benton told the Times News that Paisley shadows her “Papaw Dana” and absorbs his farming knowledge.

“Dad pretty much taught her everything,” Benton said. “She literally dug the rows with a hoe, and she put the seeds down and everything. Honestly, my dad has a green thumb and he can literally grow anything. I could have planted them myself and I probably wouldn't have gotten 10 pumpkins. I don't know their secret but she definitely takes after him.”

Papaw Dana used his tractor to plow and disc the two fields for Paisley’s first pumpkin patch this year.

“After that, we got a hoe and planted my seeds,” Paisley said. “We had to put fertilizer down to help them grow. My papaw shared his secrets with me how to grow a lot of pumpkins, and big ones, too. I can share a few of the secrets with you.”

She added, “Always make sure they have a lot of water. You have to go and talk to the pumpkins every day. It shows them you love them and they will grow faster. There’s one more secret, but I can’t tell it.”

A lot of folks stopped and asked to take pictures of her pumpkins.

“Several kids live on Grassy Creek that she has given them to,” Benton said. “They'll stop by and want to look in her pumpkin patch, and she'll tell them to take them. People have offered to buy them, and she don't want any money for them. She tells them, just take what you want.”

But Paisley's love of gardening isn't limited to pumpkins. Now she's waiting for the first frost so she can pick her gourds.

“She's got 200-300 gourds, and she makes bird houses out of them,” Benton said. “They have a huge garden in the summer. Tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, greens. They even had plum grannies. She had a bunch of those. She had watermelon, cabbage, peppers. You name it, she's grown it.”

“She helps my mom can,” Benton said, “and she loves breaking beans, which is crazy because I hate it. I don't know one kid that likes breaking beans but her.”