Tendrils: Rugosa friulana courgettes

Hello and welcome to Tendrils! The UK is currently in the grip of a courgette shortage, due to cold weather in Spain. Those of us who grow our own are still in that heady period when we’ve eaten enough courgettes, thank you, and are happy for wait for the new UK crop in late spring and early summer. It must be people with spiralizers who are desperate for the things. I think we’ve eaten the last of the courgettes (AKA zucchini) I froze in tomato sauce last summer, I would have to check. Other gardeners are smug that they dehydrated slices. Of course, a lot of us still have winter squash to ease the pain….

It’s a bit of a storm in a tea cup as – as many people have pointed out – plenty of other vegetables are available. But it will have an impact on the European farmers who haven’t got anything to sell right now. Anyway, it’s easy to grow your own courgettes this summer, and they’re nicer, too. My favourite variety is Rugosa friulana, the world’s ugliest courgette. It has pale yellow, warty skin – but makes up for its looks with a lovely flavour and a meatier texture than most. Even Ryan likes them, and he won’t touch courgettes from the supermarket.

This year I also want to grow some patty pan summer squash (very much like courgettes, but shaped like UFOs). I tried last year and failed, so I have bought fresh seed this year. I may have to choose between the yellow ones and the pale green ones. Eventually someone may breed a variety which grows different coloured fruits on the same plant; that would be fun. Or I could grow the round ones…. I have been writing about growing courgettes for The Organic Academy this week, and leafing through seed catalogues has brought on a severe case of cucurbit desire. Zephyr F1 is a thing of beauty, producing yellow courgettes that look like they’ve been dip dyed – they have pale green bottoms. Eclipse F1 produces lovely round courgettes with pale green stripes. They’re just adorable. There isn’t room for them all though, so I must be strong.

The Small Harvest Notebook by Emma Cooper

Planning this year’s kitchen garden? Why not focus on diversity, joy and manageable harvests?


Elsewhere, The Secret World of Bog explains why we should be viewing bogs as unique and fascinating ecosystems, rather than digging them up and turning them into potting compost.

Munchies has been the Food Forests of the Amazon Rainforest. In a similar vein, the Guardian has a lovely slideshow on From forest to table: fine dining gets an indigenous twist in Panama, and there’s an accompanying article on the Panama chef using rainforest ingredients to transform fine dining. In a nice touch, there are Spanish versions of both the article and the photo story.

There’s a new pest threatening crops in the UK, and the Spotted Wing Drosophilia is after your fruit, to feed its larvae. English Garden have got the skinny, and there are organic control options (including pheromone traps) available. I suspect it’s not widespread yet, but I’m not sure.

If thinking about pests makes you want to pour yourself a stiff drink, then think about booking yourself onto a gin and foraging course in May this year. Ethnobotanist Susanne Masters teams up with gin master Walter Micklethwait to lead you through finding, identify and pick wild plants – including local juniper. Back indside you’ll explore the science of taste and aroma and use your foraged goodies to create a unique batch of gin. Meanwhile, you’ll be kept happy with classic gin cocktails and novelties made using local inspirations.


And I’m celebrating this week, because I’ve been given a Golden Trowel Award! The judge said that my blog “is extremely well-written, and I imagine that her books are as well. Check out her blog for all sorts of useful information that you might not have known or a new spin on common info.”

But you already know all that, because you’re here 🙂 Thank you!

Award winning gardening blog

That’s all for now. I’ll be back with another exciting edition of award-winning Tendrils next week! Have a good weekend everybody 🙂