Archive for the 'Cucurbits' Category

Courgettes (zucchini), squashes and pumpkins

Hot and bothered… but loving it

Mixed allotment vegetablesMost things are a little small and stunted so far – obviously because of the heatwave. I’d need to be doing two hours watering at the allotment every day to keep up with it. I can’t.

Wow, but this hot weather is stunning. 32C is warm pretty much anywhere, but in the UK it feels like a blast furnace. Two years of rain and 100% cloud cover weakens one’s tolerance for heat.

But please note: I am NOT complaining. Oh no. I’m loving, loving, loving it.

Bring it on. More! More!

Posted on 20th July 2013
Under: Cucurbits, Potatoes, Roots | Comments Off on Hot and bothered… but loving it

Pumpkins and Pompeii

I watched that crap TV show about the end of Pompeii last night.

Jeez, it was shit.

Took an hour to say what could have been said in 10 mins. Endless repeats, belaboured non-points, selling ancient news (Pompeiians killed by pyroclastic flow) as ‘new discoveries’ and breathy build-ups to rubbish ‘climaxes’.

Truly the BBC thinks we’re all fucking idiots these days.

pumpkin in pompeiiThe only bit I enjoyed – and I really, really enjoyed this – was one of the reconstruction scenes where a young Roman boy is seen carrying a pumpkin… a vegetable that would not be brought back to Europe from the New World until the early 16th century.

What makes it even juicier and funnier is the obvious care taken by the show researchers to get the right seasonal vegetable into the reconstruction. They knew Vesuvius erupted on August 24th, so they clearly chose something that they thought would be appropriate for an end of summer harvest.

You can imagine the conversation at the production company:

Young metrosexual researcher: “What vegetables get harvested in late August? Anyone know?”

(Slightly) older townee: “Er, dunno. French beans? Potatoes?”

Young metrosexual researcher: “Nah, don’t think so. Arthur off Eastenders dug his up in the autumn. I remember cos it was pissing with rain in the show.”

(Slightly) older townee: “All right, then: Pumpkins. I know that’s right cos they’re always eating them in autumn in America. Had some pumpkin pie on holiday in Boston once.”

Young metrosexual researcher: “Thanks. At least if we use the right vegetable we won’t get tons of pedantic crap about the wrong season from reactionary cocks in Tunbridge Wells.”

[If you have access to BBC iPlayer and want to see it for yourself, it’s at 05:35 mins here]

Posted on 28th March 2013
Under: Cucurbits, Rants | 7 Comments »


sweetcorn, potatoes, squashesCame back from a holiday fortnight in the USA to find my vegetable plot bulging with produce. The rain has brought massive crops of everything, including weeds.

My, but you Americans live well. We toured New England, Montreal, Toronto and Niagara then drove down to Cape Cod for a few days. It was all beautiful and affecting (I saw a real, live groundhog! Up close!). Haven’t enjoyed myself as much in years.

As usual, I felt profoundly grateful to be a citizen of the 51st state (or as we might prefer to see it – winks – the 1st state) and privileged to have a historical, biological and political connection with our cousins across the pond.

I’m never embarrassed to say: God bless America (and, er, Canada).

Posted on 15th August 2012
Under: Cucurbits, Potatoes, Sweetcorn | 12 Comments »

Late, late, late… and old

courgettesIt’s all late; I’m about three weeks behind with everything because of the shite weather of the last few weeks.

On the plus side, seeds are germinating at double speed in this heat. These courgette seeds appeared only six days after sowing; some kind of record, surely.

I did five hours at the allotment this weekend, and it dawned on me – for the first time in my life – that I’m getting a bit old for this shit.

I know, I know: 43 isn’t ‘old’. But the simple acts of repeatedly kneeling, bending, getting down, getting up (especially getting up)… they’ve started to feel rather harder work than they used to. When it’s 29C.

Anyway, we keep buggering on.

Posted on 27th May 2012
Under: Cucurbits, Summer | 15 Comments »

Mixed allotment produce

mixed allotment produceWhat an miserable summer it’s been. Even September – usually dependably lovely – has let us down this year.

Having said that, the endless rain has given me some astonishing crops. This is just one trugful. I’ve been getting this every week for months.

That’s not to say everything’s been good, of course. Potatoes got blight VERY early and yields suffered accordingly. The corn didn’t like it much, either.

But everything else has gone bananas. I’ve had the best beetroot, onions, courgettes and carrots I can ever remember. The courgettes, in particular, are a menace. I am already a leper to my neighbours – to be avoided at all costs, lest I attempt to foist a courgette upon them.

How did you do this season?

Posted on 11th September 2011
Under: Cucurbits, Roots, Sweetcorn | 6 Comments »

Harvesting in the weeds

mixed allotment produceSo here’s a small selection of vegetables produced on the ‘unacceptably weedy’ Soilman allotment. And there’s a shit load more where they came from.

Weeds there may be, but I’m getting a bumper harvest. In fact, there’s usually a correlation between the amount of weed and the size of my harvest. In a good growing year, you get a lot of weed. Surprise!

I’m over the warning letter now. Have moved from irritation to resignation. If folks insist upon being cunts, there’s not much I can do about it.

huge onionInstead, I’m busy drying my monster onions and preparing for the big potato harvest tomorrow. It’s a month early because we’ve had a major attack of potato blight this year. My maincrop spuds lost the last of their foliage about a fortnight ago – so I’m not expecting a best-ever potato crop.

Still, I’m excited… because a preliminary dig in among the Golden Wonder mounds revealed some monsters. Looks like they’ve done OK, even with blight.

Posted on 20th August 2011
Under: Alliums, Cucurbits, Potatoes, Roots | 11 Comments »

Mixed supper

mixed vegetables from the allotmentQuite a mixed bag tonight. I appear to have grown Britain’s biggest beetroots to go with the exhibition cauliflowers. I may have to make that weird summer salad the Greeks like so much – you know, the one that’s a mixture of cooked and raw veg, purple because of the fresh beetroot. Rather nice.

This is turning into an extraordinary year in the vegetable garden. From a very inauspicious start, I’m getting bumper crops in almost all departments.

The ghastly weather helps, of course. Rain sucks, but it makes fierce vegetables.

Posted on 17th July 2011
Under: Cucurbits, Flowers, Potatoes, Roots | 4 Comments »

Marrows: better late than never

marrowsInteresting to be in full courgette/marrow glut in mid August. Normally cucurbits are beginning to wind down round about now.

My allotment, I’m ashamed to admit, has gone a bit weed-tastic in the last few weeks. I’ve not gone much; went away for a while, then was busy trying to run myself back to some kind of fitness.

Plus I’ve had dental problems.

Dear God, but dentistry’s pricey. Could have bought a small family home in Rochdale for what I’ve spent so far on root canal work. And there’s more to come. After a decade of relative calm, every tooth in my head has spontaneously decided to crack, rot, combust or spit the dummy in one way or another.

So there’s been pain, whingeing, allotment neglect and endless, unbounded expense. Back to normal service in the autumn, I guess.

Posted on 15th August 2010
Under: Cucurbits | 11 Comments »

Oh Lordy, it’s the…. courgette flowers

courgette flowerOh God. It’s here already.

I’m not prepared for the courgette glut. I never am. Within weeks, I’ll be chewing on the question all allotmenteers have to ponder come July and August:

At what point will the neighbours start refusing gifts of courgettes? The fifth time? The sixth?

Could I push it to a seventh or eighth??

Posted on 25th June 2010
Under: Cucurbits | 10 Comments »

Slowest growing brassicas EVER

Cauliflower seedlings gherkins

Now the mad time is starting. I’ve got seedlings stuffed into every nook and cranny of the house. There’s even more under plastic outside. I’m gagging to get them all planted out, but daren’t: it’s not frost safe for another month yet.

It’s already turning into a very peculiar growing year. My cauliflower seedlings have grown more slowly than I’ve ever known – the ones above were sown in early March, but still have only two true leaves. Quite extraordinary.

In other news, my potatoes are also coming through spectacularly slowly. Looks like patience is going to be the watchword for 2010… which is dispiriting news, because I have BUGGER ALL PATIENCE.

Posted on 1st May 2010
Under: Brassicas, Cucurbits | 8 Comments »