The allotment has been a real haven for me over the last year. I’m sure I’m not alone in benefiting from the communal and restorative properties of time outside growing. At our allotment site we have a community plot, Plot 22, which offers people just that. So I asked Emma, who runs the project, to write a guest post.
PLOT 22 is an allotment garden project that offers people who may not otherwise have access to a garden the chance to enjoy and participate in creating a peaceful, abundant and edible oasis in the middle of our busy city.
I think of courgettes as cheerful generous friends! They are easy to grow and so gallopingly bountiful it can be hard to keep up with them. That said, the planting out stage is their most vulnerable but those that make it through and survive the slugs have a prickly and reassuring sturdiness. New fruits seem to double in size over night. And for us, gardening and cooking collectively on site at PLOT 22 this ensures a feast several days a week in the summer months. This month we are dining out on a variety gifted to us by another allotment holder: a yellow courgette that produces sweet round fruits. Happily the slugs didn’t decimate these plants as they did some of our own courgettes grown from seed. This may have been because we planted these yellow ones in raised beds, waist high, certainly out of the eye line of slugs, or more likely their scent detectors.
Courgettes are most definitely a vegetable made for cooking outside. There’s very little preparation required and no need for saucepans at all! We’ve had delicate raw ribbons in our salads, using a potato peeler – easier with the long variety than the round sort, marinated multi-coloured courgette and halloumi kebabs grilled on the BBQ, and thick, colourful slices seared on the hot bars and dropped straight into fresh herby, garlicky dressing to soak up all the flavours. Next week we’ll try a recipe shared by a Japanese friend: grating the juicy pulp into spelt flour then mixed with a dash of oil to make thick green pancakes, cooked quickly in a skillet on the fire they are a treat I’ve been looking forward to for months!
It is true that you can have too much of a good thing. Sometimes a courgette’s generosity can seem like a burden of responsibility – how to make use of all this sudden vegetable goodness before they turn into the size of baseball bats? I’ve often found bags of these oversized beauties left on my doorstep by other gardeners, clearly overwhelmed by their mighty bounty. But that’s the beauty of gluts – there’s so much to go around. It reminds us how abundant Nature is and brings out the generous friend in us!