I’ve been growing courgettes for years but it was only last year that I realised I was doing it all wrong. We were staying at the glorious Pig hotel in the New Forest and wandering around their lovely kitchen garden when I spotted some monster prickly leaves. Intrigued by their similarity to courgettes, I moved closer. When I realised that these thigh-high monsters WERE courgettes, it was a serious paradigm shift. Ludicrous isn’t it? This is supposed to be the easiest vegetable of all to grow and it was the one causing me the most problems simply because I’d never truly appreciated just how huge they actually want to get.
I’d always tried to grow courgettes in tiny 30cm pots in the past. In my tiny London garden the space was so limited that said pots were popped onto one of my vertical shelving racks and left to grow as best they could. Unsurprisingly I would get one or two tiny courgettes that I would then carry, with great ceremony, into the house to slice finely and eat. The irony of course is that had I known how prolific courgette plants are, I would have immediately planted one full size one and reaped a harvest hundreds of times larger than all the puny pots put together. I used to roll my eyes when people talked about courgette gluts but I now understand what they meant. With two large raised beds populated by three varieties, I’ve become an expert on the glut. I harvest a large trug full of courgettes every other day. If I leave it any longer than that, I start getting marrows that rapidly outgrow the cat. I’ve started carrying huge boxes of courgettes in my car which I press upon unsuspecting friends (before making a quick getaway so they can’t politely decline). We’ve made courgette soup, roasted courgette, courgette pasta, ratatouille, courgette polpettes and so much more. And despite all that, I still really love them. I do wish they’d calm down a bit, and the Bianca courgette plant is a particularly prickly one. But overall we’re really pleased with how well they’re producing and, with that in mind, we’ll plant half the number of plants next year!