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I did not know that

August 15, 2020


Look at the size of this courgette! Is it some sort of miracle? Did it suddenly appear in the garden overnight?

No, it isn’t and no, it didn’t. It is a gift from a friend who’s having a lot more luck with courgettes than I am. TJ? No, another woman with day-long sunshine and a much greener thumb than I have. There will be courgette and gorgonzola summer soup after all. Just not my courgettes.

I had to go back a few years to remind myself that it really was not always thus.

08-14 zukes

This is what I pulled out of the garden pretty much exactly six years ago today.

August 2020 has been a month of learning things I did not know. Maybe not every day, but pretty regularly.

As previously noted, I did not know that courgettes produced male and female flowers.

During another visit this week, TJ shows me the difference.

zuke flowersJPG

Ah, I see. Female flowers grow out of the end of a tiny actual courgette. Male flowers are just for show and produce nothing of use. (Bloody typical.)

“Do you have any Epsom salts?” she asks me. I shake my head, bemused by this seeming non sequitur. I enjoy a good soak as much as anyone, but, alas, I no longer have a proper British soaking tub, so Epsom salts somewhat surplus to requirement these days.

Not a complete non sequitur, it turns out. Apparently Epsom salts are very useful in the garden and might just persuade my misogynistic courgette plants to start producing some actual courgettes. Who the hell knew that? Well, clearly not me.

TJ sends me away with a small jar of salts yesterday which I am going to apply when I go down to water the garden in a few minutes. Is mid-August too late? Is there still time to get even one courgette from these plants? Time will tell, I guess.

Other food and (vaguely) garden-related things I’ve learnt this month:

1. The kiwi fruit solution to painkiller-induced constipation works (This was actually part two of the learning curve. The first was being informed that kiwi fruit – or mangoes or papaya – work just as well as prunes, whilst being a damn sight more tasty.)

2. The answer to having a huge wad of pine sap landing in your hair while you are watering the garden is not (as one Facebook wag suggested) hedge clippers, but, as more useful Facebook friends informed me, vegetable oil. Works a treat. Who knew? (Well, if, like me, you didn’t, now you do.)

If the biology and chemistry classes of my school days had contained any of this information, they would have been a lot more interesting – and useful.

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