Like many gardeners I enjoy my daily wander around the garden beds, always stopping to pull up a few weeds (though Mr Good did mention that there seemed to be quite a few of them around at the moment and why wasn’t I on top of them… I wasn’t too pleased with this particular piece of feed back!) or kill a few snails or aphids. I have a troublesome habit when on my wanders, of actually getting stuck into some bigger jobs like giving everything a water or feed with liquid fertiliser, planting seeds or seedlings or spreading more mulch around. This all sounds like good things to be doing in the garden, but so often I’ve just popped out for a quick look or was intending just to hang out the washing and then go back to more pressing chores and before I know it an hour or more has passed, I’m breaking out in a sweat and my shoes are filthy.
On my daily tour (sounds impressive, especially given the actual size of my yard, but I’m going with it) I take note of the impressiveness of my potato plants, feel sorrow when I see the latest victim of the bugs in my never-ending battle with them, or ponder over what I’m going to make with the beetroots, now going quite well. I might even harvest a little silverbeet, pick a few snow peas or gather some herbs for that night’s dinner. But so often I give a casual glance at my zucchini bed without much interest and continue on my way.
Until this Saturday I really hadn’t thought much about them at all. As with everything in the garden this year, I have grown these from seed – for the first time. They were started in the seed trays when I first planted these out in August (I think) and out of the six seeds I planted five came through. Three of these grow like magic and were the first of my seedlings to go into the ground – requiring me to pull up the broccoli to make room for them. The remaining two were a little slower and didn’t go into the ground for another couple of weeks, after the last of the turnips had been pulled out. I didn’t do much to the soil in the bed before planting them, adding a little more manure and blood and bone, then mulching around the seedlings. And literally one crop came out as the zucchinis went in, so no time to let the bed fallow between crops. Since then they have been watered and given feeds when I’ve done the rest of the garden, but no other attention has been forthcoming.
It seems this lack of close attention has been just what they needed. All five seedlings are flourishing, growing larger and larger by the day and with only a few tiny nibbles. And as Mr Good and I were working hard in the yard last weekend – I was cutting down the broad beans at the time – I looked over and finally noticed just how marvelous these plants looked. I said as much to Mr Good – his response, “You always manage to grow plenty of zucchinis, what about my cucumbers? What’s happened to them?” Not quite the level of enthusiasm for them as I was hoping for.
Notwithstanding his remarks I am now quietly confident of a generous crop of zucchinis this year and am even more excited to try out a recipe for zucchini flower fritters (using either male or female flowers, or both) that I found in one of my Mum’s cook books a while ago. I do often have trouble with powdery mildew on both my zucchinis and cucumbers though (and I think I spotted some on the snow peas the other day too). It usually strikes towards the end of the plants life so at least I get a good harvest before this, but if anyone knows an effective treatment for it, I’d love to hear it.