growing courgettes

  • Aaaaaaaargh! Recipe for too many courgettes!

    Dear Deidre, Recipe suggestion please!  I have too many courgettes!  I mean so many that even my neighbours pretend to be out when I stagger up to their drive under the weight of the copious courgettes.  What am I to do?  No one likes marrows (well sometimes but if I can't give away courgettes I won't be welcome with marrow!)  Help - Anon

    If you have the same problems as our friend Anon then do not fear I have two excellent courgette recipes for you.  The first is for dainty little Courgette Appetizers and the second is for Stuffed Courgette Flowers. (I also have a marrow recipe but will save that for another day!)

    Courgette Appetizers

    These appetizers can either be used as a starter or as a canapé, you can make them into little mouthfuls or you can make them larger and use a knife and fork to eat them. They are healthy – gluten free – and it is another brilliant way to use up any excess courgettes. Here we have used mint but you could try other herbs if you so wish.

    Preparation: 15 minutes Cooking time: 10 minutes Serves: 6 as a starter

    recipe_courgette-appetisersIngredients:

    2 medium sized courgettes

    6oz (175g) goats cheese

    Handful of mint leaves

    Olive oil

    A sprinkle of salt

    Recipe Directions:

    1. With a potato peeler or even a cheese slicer, peel thick ribbons of courgette, making a courgette rasher, like bacon.
    2. Chop the mint leaves into little bits.
    3. Slice the goats cheese into a size that will fit well when wound up by the courgette rasher.
    4. Get the cheese, a sprinkle of mint and wrap the courgette around it. You may want to hold it together with a cocktail stick.
    5. Put in a baking tray and drizzle or brush a little olive oil over it. Sprinkle a little salt on top too.
    6. Put in a medium oven for 10 minutes until slightly browned and the cheese has melted.

    Stuffed Courgette/Squash Flowers (Deep Fried)

    You can only really make these canapé’s/starters when the courgettes and squashes are in flower. You will also find it almost impossible to buy the flowers anywhere, so they really do have to come from your own garden. It is just a question of how many you can get in one go to make them worth cooking.

    Preparation: 20 minutes Cooking time: 10 – 15 minutes Serves: 6

    recipe-stuffed_Courgette_flowers_on_wooden_boardIngredients:

    12 courgette/squash flowers

    1 medium courgette

    1 tbsp olive oil

    Small handful of basil or thyme

    4oz (100g) feta, goats or mozzarella cheese

    Salt and pepper

    About 2pts (1ltr) of sunflower oil for frying in

    1 lemon

    3oz (75g) plain flour

    Pinch of salt

    1 egg yolk

    6floz (175ml) ice-cold fizzy water or beer!

    Recipe Directions:

    1. Make the batter first by sifting the flour and salt into a bowl, make a well in the flour, then add the egg yolk and the fizzy water/beer.
    2. Whisk it all up until it is smooth and place in the fridge until needed.
    3. Put the sunflower oil into a deep pan for frying, it must be about 8cm (4”) deep, and heat.
    4. Check the courgettes flowers for unwanted insects and remove the pistils, as they are very bitter.
    5. Make the filling for the flowers:• Pour a tbsp of olive oil into a frying pan. Add grated courgettes and fry them until soft.• Chop the cheese into little bits and put into a bowl.• Finely chop the basil or thyme whichever herb you choose and add this to the cheese.• Add the fried courgette and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Mix it up.• Spoon this into the courgette flowers. Coat the flowers with batter.
    6. Immediately place the gooey ‘things’ into the very hot pan of oil for approximately 1 – 2 minutes until golden brown.
    7. Take them out of the oil with a slotted spoon and let them sit on some kitchen paper to cool and drain off the fat for about 3 – 5 minutes.
    8. Cut the lemon into wedges to serve alongside the still hot stuffed flowers.

    For a printable pdf for both of these recipes please click Courgette Recipes

  • Broad bean experiment: did it work?

    How to Grow early Broad Beans with Vigoroot Pots, Growlite Coir and Water Saucers

    I have an update for those of you following my early broad bean experiment (Original blog post).  Firstly to recap, this is a new and rather different method of growing broad beans in Haxnicks Vigoroot Pots, Growlite and Water Saucers.

    Broad beans in Haxnicks Vigoroot Pots Beans have started to grow

    You will recall I sowed the beans in December.  Possibly much too early for broad beans but I like to experiment.  Then I kept them permanently indoors on large, bright windowsills. They must have liked the conditions as they soon began to grow.

    The Haxnicks Water Saucers meant watering was a fortnightly task so very low maintenance.  I just checked the water reservoir and topped up as needed.  The integrated wicks did their job taking the water and food directly to the plant on demand.

    Pollination

    The next challenge was the lack of pollinators in the house, and generally around this early in the year.  So I stepped in with my soft paint brush and gently dusted the flowers to transfer the pollen.  Then it was a waiting game to see if the pollination had worked.

    Paint brush being used to pollinate broad beans Delicate touch to pollinate the flowers

    Pretty soon the flowers fell away and the swelling of the bean pods could be seen.  As often happens with these experiments we didn't quite get it right.  We didn't pollinate quite as many flowers as we should have done meaning that the crop is a little smaller than expected. Still enough to make a great meal, with more to follow, and we now know that we just need to do a bit more brush work next time.

     

    Young broad beans pods growing on a plant The broad beans starting to grow
    Young broad beans pods on a broad bean plant More broad beans growing

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Broad bean pods on bean plants Broad bean pods almost ready for picking

    In conclusion the experiment was a success and it is possible to have home grown broad beans on your table by May 1st.

    The only thing left now is to make the huge decision between simply drenching them in luscious melted butter or trying something  new like Olive Magazine's Broad Bean and Mint Panzanella with burrata  

    Decisions, decisions!

     

  • You say Zucchini, I say Courgettes!

    Haxnicks Garden Products Zucchini

    We're off to Chelsea!

    Both myself and my potted plants have been travelling, but in completely different directions. Most of the contents of my Sunbubble took an exciting trip to London. Zucchini, beans, peas, tomatoes, herbs and lettuces, were chauffeur driven to the Chelsea Flower show in their Sunday best (Vigoroot pots) to take part in a fabulous display.

    Growing Zucchini Courgettes in Haxnicks' Sunbubble

    I was particularly proud of the courgette plants that were not only in full flower, but managed to produce some fully fledged veg just in time for the first day of the show. With 3 plants growing in one small pot I thought that this was fairly impressive and a great demonstration of the magic of growing in Vigoroot

    Growing Climbing Plants and Courgettes with Haxnicks

    And on the Other side of the Pond...

    Meanwhile, I was far away in Chicago where the sun shines brightly. Out in the suburbs gardeners are mad for mulch at this time of year. They use it to lock moisture into the soil before the intense heat of July and August and to keep weeds at bay. There were lots of funky self-watering systems in action. Helping to keep the front lawns in immaculate condition and unsuspecting passers-by refreshed!  I was keen to share my potty enthusiasm for home grown edibles with all.  With an English accent on my side people seemed happy to listen, but not necessarily understand! Tomaytoes, tomatoes, potaytoes, potartoes….no problem. But rocket, coriander and courgettes become arugula, cilantro and zuchinni- much more exciting names!

    Growing Runner Beans in Haxnicks Sunbubble

    It is always exciting for me to come back to my garden after being away from home.  But more so this time of the year when a week of good weather has given everything a mighty boost. With peas swelling in their pods, beans flowering in the Sunbubble and the first tomato fruits beginning to blush, my early potted veg is nearly ready for a first tasting. Inspired by my trip to the states I am planning on a zucchini and arugula soup….yeehaaah!

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