Autumn. Yuck.

Some people see autumn in terms of leaves turning pretty colours, temperatures dropping to bearable levels, nights drawing in, happy anticipation of cosy wood fires and hot soup for tea.

I see autumn as winter's waiting room. Ill lit, chilly and with hard chairs and really old magazines with the recipe pages torn out.

Over the years I've realised I can't stave off winter by yelling "NO!" when the sun starts to set at 8pm instead of 9pm. I can't force the weather to warm up ... setting fire to large things is frowned upon ... and running around with art supplies colouring browning leaves green and gluing them back onto branches is just not feasible.


So I will just grumpily anticipate dark mornings and evenings, chilly weather and mud.

One bright spot, the first frost might kill off the pumpkin invasion that's taken place in my vege garden. Because I'm not game to go in there while it's still alive.

I was quite proud of my vege garden this summer. It wasn't up to much, but what was there owed a lot to a couple of mates who came round to help when I was on crutches and rampaged about destroying weeds until they found a patch of dirt underneath and installed some lettuces and carrot seeds.

Inspired, I scrabbled about still further, bum-shuffling along and dragging my crutches behind me, planting beans and tomatoes and spinach and herbs, cucumber and watermelons. And a pumpkin.

The pumpkin took ages to thrive, I had to nurse it along with extra waterings and fertiliser until it finally spread out a bit and managed to produce one moderately sized pumpkin. On the smaller side of moderate, to be honest.

In the meantime my beans shot up, my cucumbers shot along and my spinach came along in leaps and bounds. The tomatoes were a bit lacking in enthusiasm but a few words of encouragement and some of my home-made "manure tea" perked them up no end.

But while I happily pinched out laterals and harvested beans, behind my back, over by the grapevine, something was up.

Or maybe "somethings" were up.

It seemed that last autumn, while I was busy grumbling about the end of daylight saving and the impending rain and sleet and maybe even snow, I had neglected to harvest all of my pumpkins.

I thought I'd had them all, lined up in tidy rows in the hayshed waiting to be roasted, mashed and souped. But I can't have, because over by the grapevine, hidden by a giant comfrey plant, many small and self-sown pumpkin seeds were plotting a revolt.

I was oblivious. I assumed the green leafy activity in my peripheral vision was my watermelons and my cucumbers. "Good-oh," I thought and turned the sprinkler on them every couple of days.

By the time I realised all was not as it seemed, it was too late. The pumpkin vines had annihilated all the watermelons and cucumbers in their path and were marching through the strawberry patch towards my bean frames.

In view of the single, disappointing pumpkin on the deliberately-sown-and-nurtured plant, I thought I'd let the interlopers grow and maybe they'd come up with the goods.

Overnight - or so it seemed - the invaders went up my bean poles and started on the spud patch.

They were flowering like mad, which looked promising, so it seemed a good idea to leave them to it.

Soon they'd overtaken my spinach crop and were weaving their way through the sweetcorn.

I should have stopped things there, but I could see small pumpkins forming and that was a good thing, right?

The lettuces disappeared next, engulfed by wave after wave of pumpkin tendrils and leaves. I was sad about the lettuces but they're quite cheap in the supermarket at the moment.

And to be honest, I can't really get into my garden any more. The vines are thick and robust and ... everywhere and the pumpkins on them are immense.

I have pumpkins in my spud patch ... should I call them pumptatoes or potumpkins? Pumpkins on by bean frames ... bumpkins? Pumkeans? There are pumpkins in my grapevine - grumpkins?

And pumpkins in my corn, but let's not go there as this is a family garden.

There will be a lot of pumpkin on the menu this winter I suspect, and friends and family will be avoiding me as I try to give them the excess.

"Come round for a coffee ... but don't bring any pumpkins."

In the meantime the vines are stalking my feijoa trees. Feijumpkins? Pumpjoas?

All I am concerned with is that when I harvest this lot, I get every single one. No more self seeded jobs. And just to make sure, does anyone know where I can hire a flame thrower?