You know you’re in proper harvest season when the first courgettes arrive. But they seem to have arrived particularly early here. This has surprised me as I decided to direct-sow my courgette seeds this year, planting them straight into a raised bed back on the 17th April. I covered them with what I had to hand… some pop-up mesh food covers and/or glass cloches, and some copper rings to protect emerging seedlings from slugs (see below). I also planted some extra seeds in pots, and tucked them in under the mesh. (These also came up in situ, and I took these up to my mum’s garden). I put two in each hole, as security. Both came up, so I removed the spares. Once they outgrew the glass, I put an open framed cloche around the remaining pair to give them some ongoing protection. This came off a few weeks ago.
To be fair, the weather was unseasonably warm through April and May. We had no rain, so I kept that bed watered. Nevertheless, we had a cold start to June, and it’s only just warmed up again. I am surprised at how quickly they have fruited.
So I think most of this fruiting-success is due to the large quantity of Bokashi compost that I dug into this bed earlier in the year. I usually use it for the runner beans, digging it into a trench a month or two before planting. I really recommend using Bokashi bins for at least some of your compost making… it is particularly good for digging into the ground where extra-hungry, multi-fruiting plants are to be planted. I wonder if there is some extra warmth generated from this type of fermented compost as it further decomposes into the soil, that gives these heat loving plants just what they need to get cracking?
Whatever it is, I’ll certainly be making more of it, and will try this out again next year on more direct-sown crops.
There are more advantages to the Bokashi method. If you’d like to read more about how to make compost with Bokashi bins you can in this previous post.
Some other things I’m picking this week are:
- Lots of lovely lettuce. I grow the cut-and-come-again varieties, picking just a few of the lowest leaves off each plant, and leaving the upper ones to help it grow on.
- Spring onions. I direct-sowed these thinly so didn’t have to thin them out. I remove the larger ones carefully to allow the smaller ones to grow on. I do this by holding down the soil on each side with two fingers, so as not to disturb the roots of the remaining onions, and gently tug the ones I want out. I pick them quite small as I find they come out easier and all the leaves are fresh and clean. There is no need to remove the outer leaves, and they are tender and useable right up to the tips.
- Rocket, Oregano and Parsley – the old over-winter coriander has flowered and been removed, but some new seedlings are on the way up, along with some basil. I’ve let the thyme flower, and that now needs a good hair cut with some secateurs to get fresh regrowth.
- Strawberries, Peas, Broad Beans – these are almost ready. I can’t help picking a few broad beans as I like them small, but they really need just a little longer to fatten up.
I can’t wait!
PS This was meant to be a ‘Romanesco‘ variety of courgette, like I grew last year… they stay nice and firm when cooking, have the best flavour (in my opinion) and have an attractive ribbed appearance, creating star shapes when sliced. However, these courgettes from Mr.Fothergill seeds (bought at the local nursery) are definitely not ‘Romanesco‘, despite what they say on the packet. Very frustrating! I’ll be buying mine from Sarah Raven again next year.
If you haven’t had much luck with your courgette seedlings I notice that she still has stock of seedlings too. I’m tempted myself, if I can find some more space!