For a vegetarian, the courgette cut lengthways  makes for two very versatile dishes. I have scooped out many courgette halves this summer and tried all manner of fillings, before roasting each nutritious ‘boat’ into a piping hot kaleidoscope of flavours.

Last summer was a disaster for my courgette patch and 2011 before that wasn’t much better. Whereas before, I was lucky to get three or four decent fruits, this year they are (as people say) coming out my ears! I know the weather was a key factor as the one packet of ‘Nero di Milano’ seeds from The Organic Centre in Co. Leitrim has lasted me three years. In my small garden, four plants is all I can really fit in the courgette patch.

Another factor may be that in 2011 and 2012, my seeds were sown under glass in mid May, whereas this year with the higher temperatures, I started seed off in 3 inch pots under glass on the 30th April. More sun, a longer growing season and a lower slug population all helped. When I saw they were growing well, I doused the ground with buckets of water from the washing up once or twice a week too.

It is a pleasure to have more food than I need for a change from my

Some of the courgette harvest, except for the big one. This is from the Goatstown allotment of Eve and Áine. Turn your back and courgettes become marrows!

Some of the courgette harvest, except for the big one. This is from the Goatstown allotment of Eve and Áine. Turn your back and courgettes morph into marrows!

small garden. Courgettes, I have discovered, make very acceptable presents. In return one tends to get unusual cooking tips. To learn about how to preserve them, I must book a course with food preserving guru, Hans Wieland, on Saturday 28th September for just €40 in Sonairte, Laytown, Co. Meath. See The course is called ‘Home Preserving – Traditional and Modern Methods’. See you there!


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