Thursday, May 1, 2014

Z is For Zucchini (Also Called Courgettes/Baby Marrow)

Zucchini plants fruited continuous till mid-April
Let me start out by thanking you all for staying the AtoZ challenge course with me. I had a lot of fun, met really interesting people, some of whom I hope to continue an online relationship with, and I learnt things I didn't even know I wanted to/needed to learnt.  It's really been a pleasure, even when the schedule became rough.

Now on to the last post - Zucchini. I don't think my family has strong feelings about zucchini squash one way or another.

It's one of those vegetables I regularly throw into stews and soups, use to make breads and cakes etc. Basically it's just there, adding its flavour to our meals but not standing out. I like it.

I also like the fact that it's a prolific producer and that a few bushes can keep you in zucchini all season and you'd still have plenty more to freeze for winter.

How to grow zucchini

Site selection: Choose a space where your zucchini will have room to spread out a little, or you can stake it to grow upwards. You can also plant your zucchini among vegetables that don't like too much sun so that its large leaves can act as a little umbrella for them.

Soil preparation: Zucchini likes warm,  soil that is loamy (i.e. soil that is made up of sand, silt and clay in relatively even concentration.) and very well composted. That said, it has performed well enough in my well-composted clay soil.

Planting process:  Each of my y zucchini yielded around two fruit per week through the season, though I've heard some people say theirs produced a much higher yield.

Decide how many seeds you want to plant and then sow the seeds  2.5cm (1inch) deep in your soil, then water them. I usually just mulch the planted area and leave it alone, but you can also cover the seeds with cloches or horticultural fleece if the weather is still cool in the season.

Caring for the plant: When the seedlings have developed, thin out the plants to leave the strongest ones. Water the plant at least once a week under the plant (to reach the root system, not on the leaves). This ensures that your plant gets as much water as possible, as zucchini is a thirsty plant. Feed your plant occasionally once it starts flowering and bringing forth fruit to encourage it to fruit as much as possible.

In terms if pests and diseases, one of my crops  tended to have the blossom ends of my zucchini turn black and rot. I later found out that  the condition was caused by uneven soil moisture levels and wide fluctuations between wet and dry soil. I couldn't do much about that, as we were going through a drought at the time. But unless you have a drought, try to make sure that you water the plant deeply and that your water is directed into the soil around your plant.

If your zucchini is sort of bent and has a hole or dippled area, check for stink bugs in your garden. I had the orange and black type and ended up waging a bitter battle on time to protect my protect. This included picking the bugs off by hand, spraying with garlic and water mix and mint and water mix (separately). I also tried a bit of cayenne pepper, just in case.

The next season, I increased my percentage of beneficial plants like marigolds and nasturtiums in the garden to attract the bugs away from my crops, as they eat everything.


Harvesting: Once the zucchini plant flowers and starts to bring forth fruit, feed your plant fertilize occasionally for vigorous growth and lots of fruits. I tend to pick the zucchini around once a week from each plant, though you can harvest more frequently if your plant is a heavy producer.

Serving suggestions: We usually just throw zucchini into soups and stews. Sometimes I even grate it in.. and you don't have to "know" it's there for you to enjoy its benefits. But my favourite way to serve zucchini is in bread.

Basically, I follow this recipe found at the Down to Earth forums, but then I add a cup of grated zucchini once the bread had been fully proofed. I'm not sure the originators of the recipe intended for it to be adapted like that, but it makes a really nice savoury snack for the family.

10 comments:

  1. We grow zucchini every year. My favorite is zucchini bread or having it grilled with papers, onions and olive oil.

    Congrats on surviving the A to Z challenge.

    --
    Timothy S. Brannan
    The Other Side, April Blog Challenge: The A to Z of Witches

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  2. I put a couple of zucchini seeds in at the end of the growing season just as an experiment and one is about 3 inches long so I was hopeful but we have frosts forecast at the weekend so that will be the end of it I think. Congrats on finishing the challenge. What a lot of hard work!

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  3. Great information provided on A to Z. I look forward to future posts.

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  4. Congratulations for the keeping upto the challenge. Keep me informed about your e-book deal...Look forward to it...

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  5. That's a lot of useful information on gardening. My mother loves gardening. I am sure she will learn a lot from your blog.

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  6. Hi Damaria .. I love zucchini .. or courgette - and I even love marrow .. and we now have a round variety here .. so easy to cook and delicious ...

    I hope all is well and you're coping with the wind down to Winter .. cheers Hilary

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  7. Hi Damaria,
    Visiting your blog after few weeks. Are you not writing now :-) ? Keep writing.

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  8. Very happy to be introduced to your blog, Damaria. :-)

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  9. Ooh... There is an awesome zucchini bake thing that you use with tomatoes and herbs and lots of cheese. Super awesome.

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  10. I really enjoyed reading your posts during the A to Z Challenge! I hope to hear more from you soon:)

    Recently, I was nominated for the "Very Inspiring Blogger Award", and as part of that, I highlight 15 blogs that inspire me. You are one of those blogs! You can check out more info at my blog: Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I nominate you because I find your blog truly inspiring, so in no way feel pressured to nominate others.

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