Food for free: the joyful abundance of self-seeding vegetables

What a beautiful pumpkin!  It’s from an abundant vine that grew by itself around my nursery. Did you know pumpkin leaves are also edible? Steam them for a few minutes to make an excellent gluten free wrap, or just cook like any leafy green.
Actually, as well as the fleshy bit, the young shoots are edible, the flowers are edible, the seeds are edible, and the pumpkin skin is edible too. Thank you pumpkin! I have previously written about the 7 Ways to Use All of Your Pumpkin Plant.
I didn’t plant this, water it or do anything but harvest.  This lovely large one that Hugh is holding has been delicious as pumpkin soup for the past few nights.
The kids and I found a treasure trove of hidden pumpkins the other day – we thought we’d finished our crop for the season.

I love self-seeding vegetables. They add so much to my garden – food for free!  I think for the past decade I have not planted pumpkin, tomato or mustard spinach – they seem to keep getting stronger each season. The pumpkins are getting sweeter and the cherry tomatoes bigger.

I regularly have rocket, lettuce and other salads popping up, as well as cosmos, fennel and parsley just to name a few. I focus on making sure the soil is healthy and consider it an vitally important seed bank.
Self-seeding and perennial vegetables form the central part of my abundant and easy gardening strategy. I only plant where I see gaps forming or if I want new and different varieties of food growing.
In My Permaculture Garden, a little film (33mins) I just made, I talk about how I have integrated self-seeding and perennial plants into my permaculture kitchen garden design for abundant food production.
To keep the pumpkins coming year after year, I make sure I leave at least one fully ripe pumpkin out in the garden.  As the pumpkin flesh decomposes it creates the perfect environment for the seeds to sprout (of course). We tend to forget this, thinking of the fruits as the bits for us. Pumpkin growing almost always creates a shared harvest – some for us, some for friends, some for the soil – simply wonderful!
Monty (when he was younger), helping Costa with his pumpkin during a presentation at the World Environment Day Festival, University of the Sunshine Coast (opening the Moving Feast Community Garden).

5 Responses

  1. Mr Home Maker
    Mr Home Maker at |

    I did not know that pumpkins leaves were edible – how have I lived this long and not known that?!

  2. Morag Gamble
    Morag Gamble at |

    That was my reaction too when I found out. Actually there are so many foods we overlook – I love learning new ways to eat things.

  3. Judith Sanderson
    Judith Sanderson at |

    🙂 i will be growing some this year, i had late self seeding ones that never took off to harvest leaves, i love the flowers of pumpkin and zucchini

    I met Costa a few years ago, what an amazing man, my girls are crazy about him 🙂 nothing like people who share knowledge

  4. Anonymous
    Anonymous at |

    I am really enjoying your blog and the little films you have been posting recently. I had self sown pumpkins this year but the texture and flavour were nothing to write home about. Yours look fabulous. I know they don't breed true unless you hand pollinate and then cover the flowers but I assume you do not have to go to these lengths.

  5. Farmer Liz
    Farmer Liz at |

    My garden seems to be full of seeds and the best part is that they know the best time to germinate. Over winter I suddenly have asian greens appearing and in summer the tomatoes will be back 🙂 Your pumpkin looks fantastic! I had pumpkins from a self-seeded vine for the first time this year because we had a beehive near the garden, I think previous years I had not enough pollinators.