If you’re new or newish to vegetable gardening one of the most straightforward things to grow is a courgette plant. The seeds are easy to handle, they germinate quickly and the seedlings grow at such a satisfyingly speedy rate that even the most impatient of us couldn’t fail to be pleased. This also makes them an ideal project to undertake with children, whilst pumpkins and squash are more favoured in this respect because of their impressive size, courgettes crop more quickly and reliably, making them, I think, a better choice.
There’s still time for an August harvest so if you’d like to try some here’s how it goes. Usually you’ll get five seeds in a packet, always a dilemma because you won’t need five plants, two or three will keep a family well fed all summer long, so either sow what you think you’ll need or share the plants with a friend.For each seed you need a 7cm pot filled three quarters full with seed compost, stand this in a tray of water until compost is moist and then cover with another 2cm of compost. Place on a sunny window sill or in a greenhouse and keep damp. Once they get their second set of ‘proper leaves’ they can be planted outside in a sunny, sheltered position leaving a meter between each plant. Keep them well watered.
They are delicious picked and eaten when small, about 10cm long and of course if you can’t wait the flowers are edible as well. I’m growing variety Bianca di Trieste from Pennard Plants which appears to have sold out, Sarah Raven do have stock of it but you’ll also find plenty of choice at your local garden centre or online from the major seed suppliers such as Thompson & Morgan if you prefer.
I’m well aware that Derek was due to talk irrigation systems in this month’s update but I’m pushing all that aside because the big news is that we have flowers on some of the plants and that’s always going to be more interesting to me as well as making for a prettier photograph. Suffice to say the irrigation system worked well while we were away on holiday and with the exception of a few leaves being nibbled, by what we’re not sure, we returned to all the plants looking healthy.
The Aji Limon, Ancho, Hot Wax, Cayenne and Kung Po have been potted on again and having outgrown the cold frame are now in trays outside the green house where they seem despite the cooler days this week to be quite happy. Whilst the Jalapeño, Vampire, Torpedo Rosso and Frigatello are still inside.
Did I mention that we had also bought some plants from Victoriana Nursery? I drove down to Kent a few weeks ago and picked up some replacements for the failed Habañeros, Stephen recommended a variety called Hot Paper Lantern and I also bought a Scotch Bonnet and a Padron. This brings our total amount of plants up to forty one, plenty I think for all the recipes I talked about back in January. A bit of sun and we should be well on our way.
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It’s all been about vegetables of late on the blog, the time of year I guess. To redress the balance I thought I might talk a bit about flowers, especially since I finally made it to the Chelsea Flower Show last Friday. I did go a number of years ago, hated the crowds and left after a couple of hours vowing never to return but I’ve wondered recently if that decision was a bit rash. This generally happens once the event starts by which time of course all tickets are gone, the difference this year is that I had an opportunity to buy a ‘re-sale’ at face value, dear reader it was meant to be.
What I can report and of course those who go regularly will already know, is that if you get there at opening time you have a good couple of hours to browse around the show and artisan gardens before it gets busy at which point you can head off to the floral marquee.
On a less successful note my photographs were in the main terrible, a probable combination of poor light and over excitement that even photo shop couldn’t rescue, so just one or two will make it onto these pages. One of these is of Olivia Rose Austin a new variety from David Austin Roses. An English leander hybrid with a ‘fruity fragrance’ it’s named after David’s nineteen year old grand daughter.
Quite a beauty I think.