Sunday, 5 December 2010

Review of 2010 - Part 5, Marrows, Pumpkins and Courgettes

It was a good year for these vegetables, although I did lose a few seedlings to the late frosts in May. Above is one of the marrow plants. For those not familiar with this vegetable, a marrow is kind of like a very large courgette/zucchini. The only thing I did differently with these veggies this year was in the planting. Normally I prepare a patch of ground, manuring and composting it. This time while I did a general preparation, each plant got 2 trowels of horse manure and 1 of compost directly in its planting hole. Definitely a good plan - growth was quicker than ever before, so I will be repeating this planting method in 2011.
Marrows are curious vegetables; here is an early one and at this stage the skin is still soft enough to eat without peeling. I like them chopped whole (no need to remove the seed core) and baked in the oven with tomatoes and onions. When they get older (and bigger) the skin toughens rather like a pumpkin and you do need to remove the seeds. I have a nice recipe for marrow curry which is delicious for the mature vegetables.
The courgettes (zucchini) were magnificent this year, cropping for three months which is a record. Really huge fruit too. All of these plants were helped by the cold winter which killed my mortal enemy, the slug, in thousands.
This is a marrow plant with two fruits growing. I put a tile under each fruit (I also do this with pumpkins) to keep them off the wet soil. This helps prevent rot and in rainy conditions stops the fruit being splattered with soil.

The pumpkins did really well too, with a record 11 fruits, some of which are still waiting to be eaten. As a little postscript to this post, here's a story of what can happen with stored marrows and pumpkins.
I put two crates of marrows and pumpkins on top of the bookcase in the living room as there was no room in the kitchen. One day I came down and smelled a strange smell, couldn't figure what it was. I shrugged it off. Next day, the same, but a little stronger. Later that morning I found a pile of watery stuff on the floor. Regular readers of this blog may recall that last year I lost one of my cats to stomach cancer and the first sign of this was vomiting. So I got into full panic mode, thought my remaining cat was ill and worried myself to death but thought it was odd because I hadn't seen or heard her do it. I cleaned up the water and then took my parcels to the post. When I got back there was more and this time there was also a pool on part of the bookcase- very strange, so I cleaned it up again. Then I sat down to have a cup of tea, turned round 5 minutes later to find more water on the bookcase.

Then, and only then, I looked upward, to find a marrow had rotted and was oozing water out of the crate. Drip, drip, downwards, hence the bad smell and mysterious watery substance. The smell in the crate was not pleasant! So the moral of this story is to keep marrows and pumpkins where you can easily keep an eye on them.

Oh, and the cat's fine, by the way. She's spending the winter attached to the radiator under the window, can't prise her off it:

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