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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

No more Courgettes, thank you

Back in the late '70s and in the last year of my teens I bought my first home - a two-up two-down Suffolk flint rubble cottage with pantile roof, massive open hearth that dominated the parlour and a large plot with half a dozen apple trees. It cost £5,750. This was the age of Richard Mabey's 'Food for Free' and a sort of trancey sun-dappled hippyish 'back to the garden' ethos. So I kept hens under the apple trees, brewed beer and grew food while in an undemanding student job. 

That was my gap two-years - though we didn't know the term. One of my horticultural successes were courgettes. I was advised to line a long trench with old newspapers before mounding soil over and planting. The Sun shone. I was a diligent waterer when sober. I had such a glut of courgettes that in the end even the hens wouldn't eat them. I couldn't give them away to Suffolk natives, whose closest experience was of stuffed and roasted marrows. Friends shunned me in case I arrived bearing a box of courgettes for them. I had no recipes for jam or pickle - this was pre-internet. All Summer and well into the Autumn the bloody things just popped up and swelled their little bodies and still I felt obliged to pick them and not waste them. Well, after that, it was fifteen years before I could face a courgette again. 

With many thanks to whoever recommended David Archibald's Twilight of Abundance - so far, I'm about 70 pages in, and it's uncompromisingly depressing. I hope it has a happy ending. Its cataloguing of the arguments in favour of global cooling, a reduction of between 1° and 3° in Europe, may mean big changes in food growing. And shortages. So when I saw this article in today's Guardian I thought immediately of my fecund Anglian earth back in the heat of the '70s;

The Guardian of course fails to use the cold snap (weather) as a useful segue to discuss global cooling (climate). And will no doubt continue to do so as crops fail for real all over Europe's salad belt. Hey ho.


Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

Ha ! - some similar experience with vegetable gardening in the early 80s

The Guardian have so bet the farm on AGW that it's an obsession and also a prevailing dogma with many theological sages employed to guide the faithful in the ways of Gaia.

If cold returns to the northlands - that'll likely mean Africa will become a more conducive place to live.

The zealous ignorant metro-eco goons at GMG Kings Cross are so self absorbed and myopic that just occasionally it's difficult to feel much more than a bit of pity for them - not often mind...

John M said...

A shortage of courgettes for a season is not in itself a big problem, unless of course if you live in those trendy, upmarket parts of north London where Guardian columnists live, where the lack of a courgette spiral to decorate the halloumi & quinois salad at the street cafe represents an attack on the foundations of socialism itself.

Anonymous said...

Radders, I feel for you have gone through a similar life-changing experience.
Many years ago, Dad planted no less than 10 courgette plants when they were a novelty.
As a dutiful student home from school I watered them diligently.
the result....
Boiled courgettes, fried courgettes, courgette soup, courgette chutney etc ad nauseum.
'twas many years before I could look at those green sausage shapes without a shudder.

FrankS said...

Courgettes (and marrows, if you don't catch 'em in time) are my most abundant crop in my brief experience of allotmenting. Can't give the blighters away. But Their near relative the Squash has little will to live, and gives up the struggle in the first brisk breeze. Where did it all go wrong…

Cuffleyburgers said...

Thanks for the book recommendation Radders.

Looks fascinating and am waiting for it to come out in paperback.

Ed P said...

It was I (& perhaps others too)!
You are correct: it's quite depressing, but most of the predictions seem very reasonable and therefore likely to occur.

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

John M
any mention of the courgette drought in N. London should always be accompanied by the obligatory rendering of Edvard Munch - "The Scream"

Raedwald said...

Ed P - many thanks!

Anonymous said...

"it was fifteen years before I could face a courgette again."

I have the same relationship with Pernod, after a long night in the Church inn, Not touched a drop in thirty five years.

anon 2 said...

Well... whether we call them 'courgettes' or 'zucchini' --- they clearly aren't Brits. So too much of a "good thing," quite naturally, turns the stomach.

Anonymous said...

Happy to learn that the soil around thereabouts was so fecund and yielding to a young tyke, "apple trees" ? pray tell, of course you must..................what was the cider like?

And if you didna, what were you doing laddie?


fnord said...

There is a tale of a small country town in Pennsylvania where no one locks their homes or cars except during zucchini season . Leave your car unlocked at that time and you'll return to find a peck of zucchini on your front seat.

DeeDee99 said...

My late mother used, occasionally, to make baked suffed marrow. An East-ender, she had been evacuated to Glemsford, Suffolk for 6 years as a child so perhaps she first had it there. I hated it and now she's no longer around, I'll never have to eat it again.

Dick the Prick said...

I'm not surprised your chums shunned you. "Quick, turn the lights off, Radders is here!"

Seriously, i've never had the impulse to buy more than 2 even for a ratatouille.

G. Tingey said...

CODSWALLOP, Codswallop & codwallop.
One, my Courgettes were superabundant this year, so someone is lying.
[ You can freeze slices or sludged courgettes, for later cooking or soups - delicious. I made several pots of pickled Gherkins too...]

Secondly, it's sad to see a supposedly intelligent person re-swallowing Donaldo Trumolini's lies about the climate.
It is getting warmer.

As the people of Miami Beach, who are raising their roads & houses, because the sea-level is going up ...
See also: "Nature's Calendar" as mass-science data-gathering project, never mind the professional opinions, based on mass data of the general scientific coimmunity.

You'll be supporting Cretinism, oops creationism, next!
Please don't.