11 May, 2008

Courgettes and squashes

Now I was actually more circumspect about my courgette and squash planting than with my tomatoes. So I had 6 courgette plants, of which 3 were Genovese, a classic long green variety, and 3 were Rondo di Nizza, a round version. I gave 2 away to my landlady, so now I have 4, which is probably still too many although Emilia does love her courgettes.

I also have 5 squash plants: 2 Marina di Chioggia which I read about in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.

On a rural road near Lake Trasimeno we stopped at a roadside stand selling produce. We explained that we weren't real shoppers, just tourists with a fondness for vegetables. The proprietor, Amadeo, seemed thrilled to talk with us anyway (slowly, for the sake of my comprehension) about his life's work and passion. He was adamantly organic, a proud founding member of Italy's society of organic agriculture.

His autumn display was anchored by melons, colorful gourds, and enough varieties of pumpkin to fill a seed catalog for specialists. I was particularly enchanted with one he had stacked into pyramids all around his stand. It was unglamorous by conventional standards: dark blue-green smaller than the average jack-o'-lantern, a bit squat and covered over 100percent of its body with bluish warts. He identified it as Zucche di Chioggia. ...

I admired that pumpkin, asking its name again (writing it down this time), and whether it was edible. Amadeo sighed patiently. Edible, signora? He gave me to know this wart-covered cucurbit I held in my hand was the most delicious vegetable known to humankind. If I was any kind of cook, any kind of gardener, I needed to grow and eat them myself.

Sounded so good, I bought some seeds which looked the same and had nearly the same name. I am rather looking forward to blue wart-covered squashes in the garden.

I also have 3 Golden Apple squashes. These are small and round and golden (no surprise there then) and I got them because they looked nice, and are supposed to be great stuffed.

I started off planting them out in the ground, prepared with compost, muck and soil and of course the rocks removed.

And then when that got to be a bit much - about a day and a half and only three holes in, I gave up and resorted to grow bags.

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