Friday, March 27, 2009

Zuck.. Zuchin... Zukee..... Courgettes!

Hello again! This post will be necessarily short on account of the chappy (shown left) who's taken up residence above the computer... Another argument for getting a laptop.

This post is on my favourite Veg to grow, Zucchini. The Zucchini plant (shown right) is a member of the Cucurbit family, same as pumpkins, melons, cucumbers etc. and is a beautiful, fast growing, summer plant, that produces masses of delicious fruit. It will grow to need an area of about a metre and responds well to some good compost incorporated into the soil.

There are several different types, my fave is the Black (beauty) Zucchini (avoid hybrids such as the F1 Black jack if you want to save seed). The seeds are large, about 10mm in length, and disc shaped. Please note I am not sponsored by the seed company shown left, however if they ever read this, leave a comment we'll sort something out ;0) Basil would also like it known that she is not yet sponsored by any dog food companies-->

Zucchinis grow as a short vine (shown left), if you are wondering if that's a pot around the base of the plant, in the soil, it is. One of the wonderful things 'bout living in a multicultural suburb like Brunswick is you pick up tips from the European gardeners around. Cutting off the base of a large pot and half burying it allows you to deliver water, compost, organic fertilisers etc. straight to the root zone and stops invasive plants, mint etc. from spreading.

As the plants grow you'll notice two different kinds of flowers. The male (shown right) has a single, pollen covered anther on the stamen, no embryonic fruit behind the flower, loves football and does not clean up after itself.

The Female flower (shown left) has a more complex ruffled stamen, an embryonic fruit behind the flower, lots of shoes and navigates poorly. Transferring the pollen from the male to the female is the job of Mr. Bee, or you and a paintbrush (see tickling tomatoes post).

The result of successful pollination is a swelling fruit (shown right) and a plentiful harvest (shown left). Both images here show fruit that would have been tastier when picked at about 15cm, however, once they start, you also will struggle to keep up with the harvesting and eating. The flowers are also a bit gourmet.

Zucchinis can suffer from several different issues. The most common I see is mildew, (shown right) which appears as a fine white powdery deposit on the leaves (be careful not to mistake dried shaving foam for mildew when using your grey water on the plants.... Hi Dad). Mildew can be avoided by not crowding your plants together (thus avoiding a humid micro-climate), keeping them healthy and well fed, and spraying fortnightly with a 1 to 10 full fat milk to water spray. If it does strike, bin the leaves affected (don't compost), spray with the milk solution, and wash your hands before touching any other leaves/plants. If you have to remove an entire plant, so be it, they will lose their vigour anyhow. Fortunately they grow quickly so you may get another in in time. Another problem to look out for is blossom end rot, look it up and make sure you don't get it confused with unpollinated fruit. It is usually caused by inconsistent watering.

I wonder if there is a recipe coming that involves Zucchini.....



  1. My favourite way of cooking zuchini is to use the fine blade on v slicer and slice up the whole zuchini. Add a knob of butter to pot or pan add zuchini some salt and pepper stir well it will kind of wilt down. Very simple and quick maybe olive oil instead of butter!! I am all into simple cooking I also like to taste the vegetables.

  2. Sounds delicious, Anon! I'll have to give it a go. I can imagine scoffing a bowl of by itself. I've recently been doing something similar but raw, as a salad. Maybe I'll post about it...

    Grate 375g zucchini in lge bowl; add large onion chopped, 3 rashers bacon chopped, 1 cup grated cheese, 1 cup SR flour, 1/2 cup olive oil, 5 beaten eggs, s&pepper. Mix together to combine, pour into lined lamington tray. Sprinkle top with sesamee seeds. Bake at 180C til golden brown 30-40mins. Serve warm in salad. Good cold next day in lunchboxes.