Large boulders painted orange have come up in our backyard garden.
Actually, those are pumpkins. It's been a bumper crop year for them, in the Hoffmanns' back garden, and around the state. That's thanks in part to ample rainfall early in the summer and sunny weather lately.
Here are some of my favorite patches in Wisconsin. No, our garden isn't one of them.
Autumn Harvest, Peshtigo
This patch is about 50 miles north of Green Bay, along Highway 41. It's open during daylight hours on weekends in September and October.
You can find large carving pumpkins, and those cute miniatures. Autumn Harvest also carries a wide variety of gourds.
Spirit Hill, Clinton
This patch offers pumpkins, gourds, squash, Indian corn, corn stalks, and mums throughout the fall.
Pumpkin hunting is for kids of all ages. Spirit Hill has a children's activity area, which includes a haunted house and kids maze. I've gotten lost in the latter.
You can also challenge your kid to a game of haunted golf. You can find Spirit Hill off Highway 140 in Rock County. Take I-43 to the 140 exit.
Country Bumpkin, Wisconsin Dells
You can find some very big pumpkins at the Bumpkin, located on Highway P outside the Dells. They grew an 800-pound pumpkin in 2006 and offer several that weigh in at 200 pounds or more.
If those are too big for your front porch or table, the Bumpkin also offers many varieties that will fit those places just fine.
They also often have a nice collection of red / orange Cinderella pumpkins and white ones. During October, the Bumpkin offers a hay wagon ride to the pumpkin patch that includes riding all around the farm. The cost of this is only $1 per person, and if you don't find your ideal pumpkin at the first patch, they have a second and third patch.
Reinke's Down On The Farm, Wisconsin Rapids
Reinkes, outside Wisconsin Rapids, offers a pick-your-own pumpkin patch and pre-picked for those who don't want to work as hard. You'll also find a corn maze, tractor-pulled hay rides, gift shop, snacks and refreshment stand, restrooms, picnic area and petting zoo with farm animals.
Reinke's is centrally located between Highway 54 and County Highway W in Wisconsin Rapids.
Peck's and Heck's, Spring Green and Arena
These two patches are a few miles apart along Highway 14, between Madison and Richland Center. You'll find hundreds of pumpkins already picked and laid out on the front lawns every weekend during the fall.
Both places also offer great squash and other fall harvest produce. Peck's has a free petting zoo and wagon rides.
These are just some of my favorite pumpkin patches. There are dozens more around Wisconsin and some great ones very close to Milwaukee.