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Veg Out: Cool courgettes

Veg Out: Cool courgettes

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Blogger, private chef and keen kitchen gardener Kathy Slack tells you what to grow and how to cook it. This month, she's getting creative with courgettes

There is something particularly wondrous about the courgette. It begins life as little more than a tiny, flat, oval seed. But within weeks it’s a marauding beast taking over the patch, producing two kilo marrows overnight and lacerating your arms should you venture to pick one. I find this Jack and the Beanstalk-like transformation from unassuming seed to mighty triffid rather magical in most veg, but it is the scale and rapidity of the courgette’s growth that makes it a wonder to behold.

The other thing is that they’re exceptionally easy to grow and highly pest resistant, which makes them perfect for the beginner gardener, or the lazy one.

Plant a single seed in a small plant pot (yogurt pot-sized) with holes in the bottom in April and keep in a saucer on a cool, bright windowsill. Fill the saucer with water every week and allow the plant to soak it all up from underneath – watering from the top makes the seed rot. From about May onwards, once the seedling emerges, open the window for a couple of hours a day to allow the plant to acclimatise to life away from the shelter of the windowsill. This is called hardening off. After the risk of frost has passed, you can plant out your courgette into the ground. Water heavily at least weekly in dry weather and wait. 

Within a few weeks you’ll have baby courgettes and courgette flowers (which make a lovely addition to salads). Many is the time I have looked at a baby courgette and thought, ‘ah good, that’ll be ready in a few days’, only to return to an overgrown marrow a few days later, so pick regularly. This also encourages further growth. Well tended, one plant will produce enough fruit for a family of four and will crop until the first frosts in mid-October.

There are hundreds of courgette varieties, from the basic Parthenon or All Green Bush varieties to the more exotic Gold Rush (yellow), Patty Pan (yellow flying saucer) and Trompetti (stripy green and, you guessed it, trumpet-shaped). But I always come back to Defender – green, bushy, prolific, reliable, tasty. 

For a delicoous courgette recipe click here

Kathy Slack writes the food blog, glutsandgluttony.com, about the gluts she gets from her veg patch and the ensuing gluttony in the kitchen. She hosts regular Thursday night pop-ups at Temple Guiting Shop and Tearoom, offering a cocktail and seasonal three-course meal inspired by harvests from the allotment for £45pp. The next is on Thursday, September 14. See glutsandgluttony.com/events for more. Twitter and Instagram: @gluts_gluttony

"I find this Jack and the Beanstalk-like transformation from unassuming seed to mighty triffid rather magical in most veg, but it is the scale and rapidity of the courgette’s growth that makes it a wonder to behold."

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