Regular readers will know that courgettes are unfeasibly popular here in the Kitchen. Back in the day when I was struggling to grow what I could in my tiny garden they were a blessing as they give a generous crop in return for the smallest corner of ground. Having a glut was a novelty and I embraced the challenge with gusto - courgette cake, roasted courgette, courgette soup, courgette pickle, courgette jam, I love them all.
Therefore the great courgette tragedy of 2009, when I lost my slender green friends to mosaic virus, was a bitter blow. It's not just the loss of a popular vegetable but the ignominy of being unable to grow something universally acknowledged as a 'beginners' plant which is derided rather than celebrated for it's fecundity. Truth be told, I think it's the latter point that drives me on in my quest to conquer the courgette more than anything else.
2010 got off to a shaky start. I finally got my long awaited allotment (hoorah!) so the problem of being unable to use my mosaic virus infested garden was solved. I planted 4 courgette plants (2 green and 2 stripy) but I underestimated how exposed the allotment site was and all 4 plants went into shock after the cosiness of my back garden. I bit my nails for a week or two before they got a grip and started to actually grow.
It's true we had a glut after our holiday when the courgettes had been left to their own devices and a handful grew to monster proportions but the actual number of fruit was surprisingly low. The stripy variety in particular seemed to have quite a low yield, although I do wonder if this had something to do with their early shock.
Which brings us up to date. This year I have 2 allotments so space is far from an issue and I went to town! I sowed yellow courgettes, round courgettes and patty pan squash plus a friend kindly gave me a couple of crook neck squash seedlings. So courgettes all round then?
Hmmm, not so sure. I planted 2 yellow and 2 round on the allotment, only for us to have a frost a mere 2 days later, 1 of each type (plus a cucumber) was felled and the remaining plants have that familiar stunned look about them. Luckily my crook neck and patty pan squash were still at home and my sheltered garden escaped the frost so I'll plant a few more of those to step into the beach.
However, note to self for 2012 - don't plant the courgettes out til mid-May, it's just not worth the heartache!