• Margaret Curtis, MD

Grow Your Own

Updated: Jan 30, 2019

My husband grows giant pumpkins (BACK OFF LADIES, HE’S TAKEN). His hobby is safe, cheap and keeps him out of trouble. It also bears a striking resemblance to sound money management. Here you go:

Potential helps. Pumpkins grow from pumpkin seeds. Giant pumpkins grow from giant pumpkin seeds. Sometimes a freak of nature will surprise you, but in general, if you want a really big pumpkin you have to get a seed from another really big pumpkin.

If you are a physician, making a physician salary, you have great potential.

Keep it simple. Good soil, water, fertilizer and sunshine will get you well on your way. You can invest in floating row cover and seaweed emulsions, but these have not been shown to have a benefit. And before you ask: milk-fed pumpkins are not actually a thing.

Straightforward index funds, which you mess with as little as possible, are a smart way to go. Guaranteed double-digit returns are also not a thing.

Get advice. You can get great advice from other amateurs from an organization such as the VGVGA (Vermont Giant Vegetable Growers Association) or from your state ag outreach. You can get a book.

book cover: how to grow world class giant pumpkins

You can get good, free financial advice from books and the internet. There are also good professionals who can help. You might also be smart to speak to a CPA and/or a fee-only financial planner, at least to start.

Watch out for parasites. Squash Vine Borers and Whole Life Insurance Salesmen have laid waste to many dreams.

Good is good enough. The first year, my husband grew a 714 lb pumpkin, good enough for a ribbon at the county fair and all the acclaim that goes with.

ribbons from the county fair

Another year, we had a really cool jack-o-lantern:

huge jack o'lantern

Most years, we just have pumpkins big enough for the neighbor’s kid to use as a princess throne, and that’s good too.

You may have one or two investments that have outsize returns. Enjoy them, but not so much that you don’t enjoy the fruits of your steady, reliable investments.

It’s supposed to be fun. Growing a giant pumpkin is serious, but not too serious. We have donated seeds to a fundraiser for the local preschool. We have made friends when people stopped to ask us about the pumpkin while they were out for a walk. We haven’t yet had this much fun:

giant pumpkin boat race

Maybe this will be the year.

Enjoy your hard-earned successes. Remember that money is a means, not an end unto itself.

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