Growing Pumpkins is Not for the Tidy!

You’ve all been there. One second the pumpkin is a teeny little unobtrusive juvenile and you turn your back and he’s a wild teenager scrambling up walls, under bushes, over sidewalks, into tomato cages and under the arugula. Lordie! It’s enough to give a mother a heart attack. Ha ha ha. Hee. Actually, truth be told I don’t think there’s a thing more fun to grow. As you can see in the photo at top my one and only (who needs more than one??) has made his way over into the Child’s Corner, built primarily for fairies and any other sundry critters who are so inclined to stopover. It’s always good to build these little respites for little sprites and other-worldly creatures. I’m sure you do same. Anyway, the pumpkin was drawn that way and is charmingly entwining itself twixt the chairs, the table and the chartreuse iron sculpture I incorporated last spring. (Dontchajustloveit?) From one sole pumpkin are extending five large long arms, each in a totally different direction. Thank goodness there is room for such shenanigans! Here’s another that has wound its way into the vege bed, through the chard and around a young red hollyhock. Enchanting, you must admit…

And resting comfortably under a rosemary bush, near a volunteer nasturtium, is this plump green one promising a lush harvest in October or November! Oh, I love it!

To be honest I don’t have a clue how many pumpkins this one plant has generated. I spent weeks in a state of frustration as in spite of an abundance of big yellow flowers not a single one was turning into fruit. I resorted to googling the condition and took heart when I read of someone having same problem. It was patiently explained that the male flowers [clue-straight stems] bore no actual fruit, but that often after the arms had extended out the precious female flowers would produce actual pumpkins. Who knew? In spite of having grown many kinds of pumpkins in the past I’d never actually learned that. So my hope got stoked and sure enough eventually the flower stems starting looking rounded and, well, pregnant! Whoopee! Since then that single pumpkin has gotten so complex and wild I have literally lost track of how many I might get this season, but I’m confident there will be enough for pies and jack-o-lanterns. The important stuff. Oh, yes, and pumpkin bread, for which I am known among a select circle and in a minute I am going to share my recipe with you!
Yes, I am. Meanwhile, here’s another promising charmer…

My (Native American) electrician’s wife is Hispanic. She visited my garden recently and encouraged me to eat the male flowers, which would have made that early period much more agreeable and productive, I must say. The Hispanics steam them and eat them with cheese, I do believe. If anyone has any solid recipes, please share. I need guidance. As attractive as eating flowers always sounds my aculturation dominates my actions and I hesitate on the brink of Trying Something New. Oh, boy. I’m sure they’re delicious. Help me get there.

Yummy flower–I’m sure it is.

And now for the good stuff.

Pumpkin Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan. (I use butter.)


1 cup wholewheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg (use whole nutmeg!)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Combine in a cup:

1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (use the real thing)

In a large bowl, beat until creamy:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

Gradually add to the butter:

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar (or you can try 1/3 cup molasses)

Beat in two eggs.

Add and beat on low speed, just until blended:

1 cup pumpkin puree
[Note: ideally you’ve grown your own pumpkin which you’ve steamed and mashed.]

Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk mixture in two parts, mixing with a wooden spoon.

Fold in:

1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about one hour. It could be a teeny bit more. Allow to cool before cutting. Use a dollop of whipped cream for special holiday treat!

Embrace the beauty of Indian Summer and the ensuing harvest, my dears. As the Earth’s energies recede back into the Earth for renewal and regeneration, mysteries surface and abound.

Love and garden blessings,
Kathryn xxoox
Footnote: for exciting updates on the Scarf Initiative please scroll down!

28 Responses to “Growing Pumpkins is Not for the Tidy!”

  1. My nine year old has been after me to grow pumpkins for several years now. I always tell him I don’t think we have the room. Next year I think I just might have to humor him as they seem like they are so much fun to grow. I want a homegrown pumpkin to turn into pumpkin pie, bread, soup…

    Thank you for sharing your pumpkin bread recipe. It is quite different from mine so I think I just might have to try it out!

  2. Hi, Cynthia! Oh, do! Best plan–let him plant the seed, as it will be an enormously empowering experience for him to see how his planting that little seed resulted in such a big result. Granted, unruly, but incredible FUN! I remember the first year I did it and I could not believe where that pumpkin decided to grow! Let me know! Kathryn xoxo

  3. What a lovely post and very timing accurate ๐Ÿ™‚ I also grow pumpkin this year, but it is spaghetti pumpkin – I am going to try it soon and will post about it ๐Ÿ™‚
    Have a nice weekend!

  4. Since our zucchini has been a bit of a disappointment this year, we are thinking of trellising some mini pumpkins next year. Yours look wonderful. You MUST try pumpkin soup made in the shell. YUMM!! Also, as far as the flowers go, use them like grape leaves to stuff with traditional dolmas (or some variation) then fry or bake them up until they are crisp. Definitely tasty!

  5. Good morning, Ewa! I remember when I lived in Amsterdam that the Dutch were not familiar with our (big orange) American pumpkin. Those who knew it ate it like a squash, whereas we eat it most often as a sweet, in pies and breads–though sometimes as a soup, but less commonly. I did grow one spaghetti squash this year. I look forward to your post on this vege! Kathryn xox

  6. Shibaguyz! Thanks for pointing me in the right direction on the pumpkin flowers! I can see it! And I do hope you will try the trellising idea next year. You will get such a kick out of it, and I can’t wait to see the photos!
    Kathryn xoxo

  7. I don’t suppose it’s very helpful to say I enjoyed courgette (zuchini) flowers stuffed with a mixture of rice & vegetables while in Italy, because I don’t know how they were cooked, just that they were delicious, and we found them in the local “take-away-cooked-chicken” place. Probably like pumpkin flowers, I imagine. I like the way your pumpkin wanders about.

  8. Welcome, GreenishLady! Actually it helps enormously. A rice and vege mixture in pumpkin flowers sounds like something I can aspire to. I think I’m working up an appetite! Thank you for visit–and the inspiration! Kathryn xoxo

  9. What great photos! And a very delicious-sounding recipe.

  10. Gotta love a woman who bakes with pecans! Since you clearly like spice, you need to get over to Poor Richard’s Almanac and try out Silence’s Curried Pumpkin Soup, Kathryn! Search for the post “Of presidents and pumpkins” (it was Silence’s very first post, way back in February!), and you’ll find a fast, warming, luscious soup for your beautiful pumpkins. I love your chartreuse trellis, too! We had a volunteer butternut squash vine in one of our compost bins this year, and it’s sent out arms into the other bins, into one of our pear trees, and along one of our garden beds. It looks great, and has been so prolific we’re thinking we should just start a winter squash or pumpkin in the compost bin every year!

  11. Welcome to Plant Whatever Brings You Joy, Parsec! Thanks for the visit. I visited your site. Nice morning glories! Kathryn xox

  12. Good morning, my friend Ben! I am most certainly going to go find that recipe as I’m frankly lacking the ideal pumpkin soup recipe in my repertoire, and I love curry. I’m about to make curried lentil soup this morning, as a matter of fact. So perfect suggestion for me! Thanks! Your butternut squash has a brother here in CA. Aren’t they fun?? Yours must love the compost as a place to live. Thanks for the visit. Kathryn xxo

  13. After reading your delightful post, dear Kathryn, I MUST try your yummy recipe. Try stuffing squash blossoms with guacamole … it’s memorable! My Thai Pumpkin Soup (posted on my blog) is also treat that my family craves. Happy harvest! BIG HUGS.

  14. Hi, Joey! Let me know what you think! I’ll try the guacamole. (Anyone know if the flower stays fresh, or do I steam first, or??) And I’m definitely going to check out Thai Pumpkin Soup! Yippee! New fall soups to try! Big hug back! Kathryn xox

  15. My stuffed blossom recipe is at
    I mix some chevre with chopped herbs from the garden-basil, flat leaved parsley, oregano, a minced garlic clove, few slices chili, pinch of salt and pepper and stuffed the blossoms with a heaped tablespoon each. Closed the blossom tops by twisting, then I warmed extra virgin olive oil or butter in a heavy skillet and sautรฉed the filled blossoms until golden.

  16. Hi Kathryn, your new chartreuse sculpture makes a beautiful pumpkin trellis. How charming the vines look with their curly tendrils, beautiful blooms, and promising pumpkins sprawling all over your lovely garden!

  17. Nicole! Thank you! Very explicit instructions on the pumpkin flower recipe and doesn’t that sound delicious? I think I know what I shall have for lunch today! I’ll go out and get some flowers this morning! Yum! Kathryn ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Hi, Linda! Welcome! Yes, I don’t think there is another vege whose growing habits are as charming as a pumpkin. I can’t think of a single other vege that makes me LAUGH! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the visit! Kathryn xoxo

  19. Ohhh, yay! It’s going around! lol I’m making soups myself!
    Just made a big pot of curried lentil soup yesterday, but I
    admit that I was craving pumpkin soup! That soup I made
    last year with the pumpkins you mailed me was Fantastic!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  20. Hi, Antonia! You must send me the recipe! I want to experiment this year! Yeah, it’s drizzly up here today and soup would hit the spot! I may dig around and see if any are looking ripened enough to harvest!
    Curried lentil sounds yummy, too! Love, Mom xoxo

  21. Hi! Wow! You’re blessed with pumpkins! Mmmmm….. I wonder when will mine grow up like yours [sigh]

  22. Welcome, S. Chandramouli! I am, indeed, blessed with pumpkins. I’m thinking soup, any day now. I visited your site and saw your one sweet pumpkin. One is enough. Godspeed! Kathryn xox

  23. Hi Kathryn,
    What a fun post- love the photos and the big payoff- a recipe! We are going into a new season and no better way to herald it than with pumpkins.


  24. Hi, Shirley! Welcome! Congratulations on the New Season! Best wishes for a great one! Yes, pumpkin time–one of my favorite seasons, marked by a big orange vege! Kathryn xoxo

  25. Pumpkin flowers are yummy to eat. Italians eat them all the time when they can find them. Firstly pick flowers (if there are only two or three – put them in a plastic bag in the fridge until you have enough for a meal – usually about 12).
    Take off all green stems from outside of flower. Wash them.
    Make up a batter of flower, 1 egg, salt & pepper.
    Heat oil in pan – batter flowers and fry.
    Place on paper towel and sprinkle with sale. DELICIOUS!

  26. Gday! Pumkn flowers are yummy, im new to growing them and have been hand polinating the female flowers by plucking a male flower, pulling off the petals and brushing the centre into the female flowers. I found myself munching on the pulled off petals as i worked, guilty pleasures in the garden, or not so guilty on second thoughts ๐Ÿ™‚ Jamie Oliver had an exellent recipe recently, a mix of feta and ricotta cheese and some other goodies to taste, filled into the centre of a large pumkin flower, the flower is then folded closed and the cheese holds it all together. Batter, quickly deep fry and enjoy! He used the same batter for some of the smaller leaves too, something i will try soon ๐Ÿ™‚
    Fun in the garden all, great blog, thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. thanks for the pictures and interesting post. I am also growing pumpkins this year, but only by mistake. Last fall I purchased some small pumpkins for decorations on my front porch. We left for the winter, traveled for 3 months, came home to find the rotten. squishy things still on the porch. i threw them into the compost pile and never gave them another thought. We prepared our garden soil, using lots of our compost and planted all of our favorite vegies. Well, guess what sprouted EVERYWHERE. For awhile I didn’t know what it was and why it was all over the garden. Now the mystery is solved, and we are anxiously waiting our pumpkin harvest. Not much room for anything else tho. they have taken over, and i am letting them have their way. After all, its not their fault that I am a beginner gardener.

  28. Hi, Kathy, and welcome! That’s a funny story. I always say the way to know a plant is to work with it. In this case it sounds like they are working YOU! ๐Ÿ™‚ You will have so much fun in the fall. Let the kids in your life pick out their very own pumpkin! They will remember forever. Kathryn xoxo

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