Vege vandals pinch a pile of pumpkins
By BELINDA SCOTT
NORM Hoschke says pinching all his pumpkins was a pretty low-down act.
The 94-year-old great-grandfather had at least 14 pumpkins stolen from his backyard vegetable patch in Coffs Harbour some time between Saturday night and Sunday morning.
He was left with only a couple of small, half-grown pumpkins on the lush vine sprawling across his sunny Jetty backyard.
He said except for the theft of a few bits of broccoli many years ago, it was the first time he had lost vegetables from his garden in more than half a century of growing sweet potatoes, pumpkins, beans, broccoli and other veges on the same plot of land.
The retired Upper Orara banana farmer was lucky not to lose his bunch of ladyfinger bananas as well the thieves hooked a rope over the high bunch but apparently failed to pull it down, although they knocked off some of the bananas, which were months away from ripening.
Norm Hoschke said he may have disturbed the operation when he went out to measure the rain in his rain gauge at 6am on Sunday.
Norm and Ilena Hoschke say they believed the thieves stole the carload of Jap pumpkins to sell at one of the local markets.
As well as keeping them in baked pumpkins and pumpkin soup all year round, the Hoschkes usually give many of their pumpkins away to family, neighbours and friends.
Norm discovered the loss when he went to cut a pumpkin to give to his grandson to take home.
"I was a bit dumbfounded," Norm said.
"They must have had some daylight or known where they were. They must have passed them over the back fence."
But he said the experience had not put him off backyard vegetable growing.
"I've had a lot of crops and we eat our vegetables all year round."