Featured in

Featured in: Tiny Buddha, Halifax Media Coop, Fine Fit Day, Simplify the Season, La Presse, Filles, Le Canada-Français

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The year of the zucchini

By Martine Brault

(Note from your usual blogger: We are using this harvesting time as a pretext to welcome a guest writer on Happiness is a dish best savoured hot. Martine will be touching on a compelling source of happiness: earning the fruits of your labour - to be taken literally in this case. Happy reading! And happy harvesting!)

If there were a zodiac for veggies, this would be it.                       

I guess by now everybody will agree that, despite the September rains, this has been a great summer for gardening. Everyone knows, and so did I, that whether you are blessed with a good or a bad year, zucchini are always up to the challenge. You plant 2 or 3 small seeds and harvest enough cucurbitacaea for as many families.

Take an avid gardener who suffered her first Bury summer in 2009 (hardly any crops at all), add our great summer of 2010, and you get a sure-fire recipe for overproduction. Not only did I sow 3 seeds of the long yellow type, but some round green ones (Eightball), and seeds I had kept from a spaghetti squash eaten last fall, not realizing that it was a hybrid. And they started growing.

By early August, all the signs were there. The yellow zucchini proved to be the earliest and highest producers of all, and we were already picking 2 or 3 fruit every other day. Meanwhile, the “spaghetti squash” endeavoured to do what all seeds from hybrid plants do, which is to return to their original state. Surprise! They were the offspring of zucchini-like plants: green ones, long and short, and pretty cream ones with a light green tip. But spaghetti squash is not a “compact plant” like zucchini; it started invading the golf course, and I regularly had to bring back the young invasive tendrils to our garden. Slower starters, the Eightballs caught up with the long yellows and began producing on a regular basis as well. And they kept growing.

By mid-August, we were already saturated. Ever the optimist, I figured that I could bake zucchini bread and freeze it for winter. I had been baking 3 breads a day for a week when Hervé delicately pointed out that even if his tastes were simple, a little variety in food was always pleasant. I also planned on canning “ratatouille” but my tomatoes were far from ripe. So I had to buy 20 lbs of ripe ones to process and can about 30 half-litre jars of the delicious mix. I made soup, sautés, fried them with garlic, broiled them and served them with sweet balsamic vinegar, ate them raw with a dip, chopped, diced, grated, blanched them and froze them for winter soups, and stuffed them. But they kept growing.

By late August the spaghetti relatives, having given up trying to make it to the putting green, were climbing our rose bushes and aiming for the hydrangea, now in full bloom. Fortunately, some friends and neighbours did not have our luck and I managed to give some away. Giving away Zucchini is one of the best ways to lose friends. They will not offend you by refusing your fruit, but will secretly go out at night and bury them at the back of their own garden. Or, as Barbara Kingsolver mentions in her book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”, quietly lock their gates so you will shy away from leaving a bag full of the lovely veggies on their doorstep while they are out shopping. By mid-September, when a friend politely refused my fruit to feed her pigs, I knew I had pushed it enough and began composting the squash for the benefit of next year’s garden. And they still keep growing.

Thanks to the absence of deep frost to date, our zucchini are still flowering. Zucchini anyone?

No comments:

Post a Comment