Archive for September, 2008

August at Lady Road

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

The weather has been atrocious.  We have had 4 times the average rainfall for August.  The burn which runs through the site has had many surcharges from the combined sewer overflows, at least four of these have been too severe to be contained within the banks and the plots alongside have been flooded with household sewerage and the usual “rags”.  The plot holders alongside the burn have their own flood defences, corrugated sheeting being the favourite as you can sink it into the ground alongside the path to prevent the flood scoring your soil away.

The excess rain does have a few benefits, my runner beans are excellent and cropping continuously.  Courgettes are doing well as are most root vegetables.  I have never had such big swedes at this time of year.  There is another problem this moist weather brings- blight- the tomatoes have got it and we had reports by the end of the month that some sites in the Edinburgh area already have potato blight.

I seem to be cutting the grass all the time, each plot holder at Lady Road is responsible for the paths on the South and East of their plot, this way all paths should be kept in good condition, needless to say not everyone is public spirited.  I some times wish we were self-managed like the Dundee sites their paths are immaculate.

The sweet peas that I layered last month are not well.  The growing tip keels over and the plant wilts, the flower heads loose their buds and I am getting bare stalks.  Some plants alongside are doing well.  At this rate I will not have enough to go into the allotment show.

I am also the Edinburgh allotments Show Secretary.  We have a very willing committee who do all the hard work, I just produce work lists and tidy up the loose ends.  The Show takes place on the second Sunday of September and I have been trying for the last six years to win the sweet pea trophy.  Ah well there is always next year.

Golden Zucchini – Vegetable of the Month recipes

Thursday, September 11th, 2008
Golden Zucchini Bush Golden Zucchini is a squash very similar to the standard green courgette but yellow – as their name implies – and with a firmer, less watery flesh.  They look very pretty in vegetable dishes and I think they have a better flavour than their green cousins.  This has not been the best year ever to grow them – fruits have had a tendency to rot off in the pouring rains of July and August and the competition from slugs has been intense.  Nevertheless, I have had a crop of 5 or 6 lbs so far and there seem to be more to come.  The great thing – apart from not having to pay the outrageous prices charged in the shops – is that you can pick them when they are really small and full of flavour.  Each plant needs quite a lot of space and lots of rich manure or compost dug into the soil.  I start them off on the bathroom windowsill in early April, move them still in pots out to the back yard to harden off in mid May before putting them into the ground, with a total antislug barrier around them at the end of May/begining of June.  They are very vulnerable to slugs when first put in the ground – the slugs will nibble right through their stems and kill them dead unless prevented.
They can be used in any recipe in which you would use a normal green courgette, such as ratatouille.  If you are lucky enough to have a glut of them then make aubergine parmigiana replacing the aubergine with the golden zucchini.  Slice the zucchini lengthways and fairly thinly, and fry the slices gently in olive oil until they soften.  In a baking dish build up layers of the zucchini, tomato sauce (made naturally with your glut of tomatoes!) and mozzarella cheese. Top with grated parmesan cheese and bake in a moderate oven for about 45 minutes.  This freezes very well.
I like to use them in a mixed roasted vegetable dish along with red peppers, onions and tomatoes – if the zucchini are small enough you can just top and tail them but leave them whole,  Otherwise chop them into reasonable sized chunks, chop the onion, red pepper and slice the tomatoes. place them in an oven proof dish  dribble with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh herbs – marjoram, sage, or rosemary are all good choices – and salt and pepper to taste.  Bake in a moderate oven for at least 45 minutes.The zucchini are delicious served under grilled cheese.  Slice them lengthways into slices between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. Brush with olive oil and cook under a grill until they begin to turn a bit brown – the slices will then be soft.  Toast slices of bread on one side.  Put the grilled zucchini onto the untoasted side and cover with a good melting cheese – mozzarella if you like a mild flavour,  a mature cheddar or even blue stilton if you want more of a kick.  Replace under the grill and cook till the cheese is melted and bubbling slightly.  Sprinkle some fresh herb on top and have a great lunch.
Golden Zucchini in Bowl