The New Normal – Gardening Part Seven

Well, dear reader, we’ve reached a momentous day in the lockdown gardening adventure. I have now been able to actually cook with some of the literal fruits of my labours. I know, it’s emotional, and I too didn’t think this day would come. Would we be defeated by a late frost, heavy wind, hail, slugs, snails, flies? We have faced all of these challenges but together, my vegetable patch and I have finally produced life. Well, courgette.

Grow Your Own Vegetables During Lockdown Gardening Blog Post by That Emily
A big juicy courgette ready to be harvested!

The variety of courgette we are growing is not one I’m familiar with, so as soon as we realised we had a few of a healthy looking size it became a bit of a guessing game to work out the optimum moment to harvest. Thankfully, the courgette is a fairly forgiving fruit and if it is left too long it will of course just turn into a marrow. Does it count as a marrow if you’re growing the spherical variety? I suppose so. Will it become a watermelon sized bulbous creature, impossible to actually lift? Should I experiment with this..?

Anyway, The First Courgette was delicious. I roasted a few slices with a little onion, salt and oil and popped on top of some toast with an egg. It’s not quite the millennial favourite of avocado toast but it proved very popular with my family! I’ve also been able to grab a small handful of the green beans which are, just as a note, about four hundred and thirty-five times tastier than green beans you buy in the supermarket. I’ve done the science. We’ve now harvested so many courgettes that I’ve become quite the master of different ways to cook with it, so prepare yourselves for a post on the many marvels of the courgette soming some time soon!

In terms of the rest of the veggies, a few of the carrots are definitely starting to look ready to pick. I’m not expecting them to be particularly pretty but hey, home grown carrots are something, right?! The cucumbers, which were a later addition to the vegetable garden, have done that amazing thing where one day I watered them and they were all barely more than a centimetre long, and then the next morning they were heading fast toward the 15cm mark. I don’t know how they do it, but I’m continuing to provide them with plenty of water in the hopes that keeps their growth steady. I think, if I remember rightly, this variety of cucumber is all female. In all honesty I have no idea what that means in terms of the crop of the plant or the taste of the vegetable but they seem to be doing quite well at the moment, with half a dozen at a healthy looking stage and I’m hoping to be able to harvest them in about a week. Then it’s tzatziki time!

Grow Your Own Vegetables During Lockdown Gardening Cucumber Blog Post by That Emily
An adolescent cucumber

Now, Watermelon Watch is still very much in the same place as it was, we have some teeny tiny watermelons showing up on the plants now and I am doing everything I can do keep those plants happy so we stand a chance at getting a full sized fruit. Please cross your fingers for me! The sunflowers have made their gorgeous appearance and are bringing in loads of bees of all different varieties. There’s something so ‘Secret Garden’ about the gentle hum that constantly surrounds them, combined with the distant tweeting of birds. I’m tempted to look into what I would need to do in order to harvest the seeds and really make the most of the sunflowers once the petals begin to fade. Has anyone tried this in the past? How easy did you find it?

I’m well aware that my entire social life now revolves around an array of vegetable plants but somehow, during this lockdown period, that has kept me focused and there is a certain delight in seeing these enormous plants (trust me the pumpkin plants have gone very Little Shop of Horrors on me) grow out of such tiny seeds and knowing that you have worked hand in hand with nature to get it there.

Grow Your Own Vegetables During Lockdown Gardening Blog Post by That Emily
It might not look like much right now, but in theory this will become a gorgeous pumpkin in a few months time!

Speaking of the pumpkin plants, after a few false starts (some dastardly squirrels getting their teeth in) I have a few pumpkins who look *touchwood* well on their way to growing full term. Yes, I speak about my vegetables like an expectant mother but leave me alone, okay? This variety of pumpkin are similar to the kind you would buy in a supermarket to carve, rather than the slightly smaller, sweeter tasting variety. My logic therefore is to be gentle with the plant and aggressive with the watering, and hope that somehow magic happens overnight and they turn from slightly odd looking little things into full grown pumpkins! Here’s hoping…

Grow Your Own Vegetables During Lockdown Gardening Blog Post by That Emily
Some of the tomatoes are edging closer that all important ripening stage

My cayenne peppers are just starting to turn red, so I’m expecting to harvest plenty of them in the coming weeks. I’m hoping they’ll have that slightly sweet flavour to them that I love about cayenne and will work nicely in cooking. I’ve had a few varieties of chilli pepper over the years and the biggest thing I always notice is now much hotter the ones grown at home are than those you buy in the supermarket. I suppose it’s partially to do with freshness and also the speed at which they’re expected to grow. Mine live a very relaxed no pressure life and grow at their own speed which (fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your taste preferences) means they tend to ward the spicer end of the scale!

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