We need to talk about courgettes – what to do with a zucchini glut

Neither GB or I really like courgettes. Love a butternut squash, very happy with a pumpkin, but courgettes are a bit meh. We don’t hate them, they’re just a bit bland and watery. Growing up, they were my sister’s favourite vegetable so I was constantly finding them snuck into veggie lasagne or served boiled on the side of the Sunday roast. So why are we growing two courgette plants?

Zucchini plant taking over the world

Well partly because we do still like courgetti but mainly because they are easy and quite impressive. Even when we only had a courtyard garden we managed to grow a reasonable sized plant. However the allotment takes it to a whole other level.

Courgette plant leaves with my hand for scale

So the question is, what can two people who don’t really like courgettes do with a glut of them.

So here is our list of zucchini recipes aka how to hide courgette in as many ways possible.

1. So the obvious courgetti – a low carb alternative to pasta, and a good excuse for loading up on sauce and cheese

2. Finely sliced (use your vegetable peeler to slice) on the side of sea bass or other fish with a squeeze of lime – the lime is important to hide the lack of taste from the courgette

3. Spring vegetable soup – I used this recipe from the BBC and felt very virtuous. I didn’t make my own pesto but I did make my own stock from the carcass of a Ella Risbridger ‘Midnight Chicken’. If you have not come across this, google it now, it’s awesome.

Spring vegetable soup simmering

4. Roasted courgettes – cut into thick batons, drizzle in olive oil, lemon juice and oregano. Roast for twenty minutes or so. Again it’s all about adding flavour.

5. Courgette cake – we really like this recipe for courgette and lime tray bake. It’s really easy and the courgette keeps the cake nice and moist. Courgette and citrus seems like a good pairing

courgette cake and coffee

6. Chutneys and relishes – since we were in bbq season I opted for relish, but later in the year I think I’ll try chutney

7. Courgette and feta muffins – we often have feta to use up so this seemed like a quick way to kill two birds with one stone. I tried these and they were super easy. Uk based readers, you can make a buttermilk substitute with lemon juice and milk really easily.

Super light muffins

8. Courgette fritters – these take a while and are pretty unhealthy, but they are really really tasty. There are lots of recipes online but basically just salt slices of courgette, leave for an hour, coat in flour, and dip in a glass of water right before deep frying until brown.

Most unhealthy way to eat a vegetable?

That’s it for now but we’ve still got five or six squash size courgettes left so watch this space for a part two.

Sewing plans for the next few months

My fabric box is overflowing again which is a sign I need to spend less time on the allotment and more time on my sewing machine.

I have fabric ready for a few patterns so really there is no excuse.

First on the cutting table will be this broderie anglaise double gauze from Higgs & Higgs. I’m not 100% sure the colour will suit me (curse of buying online) and I’ve never sewn with double gauze before so not sure how it’ll go, but I’m planning a Roscoe blouse in time for my September holiday to the Lakes.

Roscoe Blouse and double gauze

Next up I’ve had this old rose waffle knit in my stash since last winter. I was waiting for ribbing I’d preordered to arrive on Minerva but after a few months I gave up and ordered from jelly fabrics instead. This is destined to be another Billie sweater with three quarter sleeves and I might lower the neckline a little this time too.

Old rose waffle knit for an autumn jumper

I absolutely love this mind the maker viscose rib knit. I already have a Mandy boat neck tee in this fabric in a rust colour which I love, so when it came on sale I had to snap it up. I’m planning an Agnes top but with a boat neck hack because I love boat neck so much.

I also picked up this lightweight striped ribbed jersey in the Plan it Make it closing down sale which I think will make a lovely Agnes with the regular scoop neck.

Fabrics to sew the Agnes

You can never have too many PJs and I’m looking forward to curling up in this gorgeous french terry from Jelly Fabrics. I fell in love with the polar bear print but it’s not something I’d wear outside so a pair of Juno PJs from Make it Simple are in the cards. Also you may notice a slight Tilly and the Buttons bias in this post. You never forget your first pattern designer right?

How cute is this fabric?

This gorgeous ochre chambray will probably be another avid seamstress blouse. I keep toying with something more structured but I only purchased enough buttons for the avid seamstress pattern and most other shirts need many more buttons. It’s not a dealbreaker but I do love the dark ochre buttons on the light ochre fabric so I think I may stick to my plan.

Chambray blouse

So this fabric is a bit precious. My granny bought it in Scotland years ago, I think either gave it to my mum or my mum inherited when she died but either way it’s been waiting well over 20 years to become a garment. My mum gifted it to me to practice with but I’d like to make something nice with it. I’m thinking an arielle skirt, but I might buy some other fabric to practice with first before cutting into it.

Fabric close up – it definitely says winter skirt to me

Finally I have this awesome art gallery rayon which I bought last year to make into a lotta dress. I thought it would be good for my cousins wedding but that’s been postponed until 2022 so is waiting in my stash for the day I finally use it.

Anyone else have fabric they are scared to use?

So that’s what I have planned so far. I expect that will keep me busy until Christmas but I also saw some lovely hoodie patterns online and the urge to sew cozy clothes is very real.

Starting an allotment- August, the one with all the harvests

It’s pay off time, the last few months of digging and planting have all been for something as we navigate courgette gluts, lay onions out to dry, dig up potatoes, and laugh at funky shaped carrots.

What happens when you transplant carrots

We’ve been picking french beans, stir fried chard, and taking regular cutting off the broccoli.

Onions and Swiss chard

Thoughts are now turning to autumn, my jack be little seeds must have been mislabelled as there is a fairly large pumpkin on the way.

The sprouts look almost ready to go, and we’ve sown more radishes, pak choi, and spring onions.

We’re starting to dig over one of the beds we covered in June in preparation for overwintering broad beans, and I’m eyeing up a dwarf apple tree and maybe a pear tree too.

Working from home has definitely helped with this. When we were in the office 4-5 days a week often we weren’t home until nearly 7pm and the idea of heading out to dig a potato bed would have been unimaginable.

Our office is slowly reopening now but with a very flexible home working policy so it’s going to be about finding the balance between office and home that works for us. But it seems like the allotment is here to stay. We’re committing to planting fruit trees, asparagus, and rhubarb all of which require patience to get established but I can’t wait.

Allotment progress so far

As we approach the end of summer it seems like a good time to reflect on our allotment progress so far.

We got the ‘keys’ to our plot on May 1st on a sunny weekend, little did we know that would be one of the few sunny days we’d see this summer. What followed was a lot of very rainy weather, interspaced with the occasional heat wave.

Our patch on May 1st

We spent our first few weeks digging out beds in soil which had not been dug for several years, rushing to plant potatoes and onions before it was too late to do so, and researching seeds we could plant in June.

June update

The warmer weather in June meant a lot of our seedlings flourished and suddenly we needed to build bigger brassica nets and find gaps for plants we’d been growing from seed.

July – space filling up

By early July we were getting our first harvests of courgettes, beetroot and chard. The tomatoes plants were growing strongly and we were definitely making progress.

Sadly blight hit in late July. We gave it our best shot and tried to cut back the effected leaves but the wet humid weather meant we were flighting a loosing battle and in mid August we decided to dig up all the plants. On the bright side, we decided to reuse our canes to train the cucumber plant which had been somewhat buried in amongst the potatoes. It turned out that we actually had a massive cucumber plant growing we just couldn’t see it in the mess of leaves. So fingers crossed for some cucumbers!

August – days getting shorter but the allotment is filling up

The strange thing about an allotment is you can go for days with nothing changing and then suddenly it feels like there has been progress overnight. Looking back now, I can’t believe how much we’ve achieved in just a few months, and I can’t wait to see how it looks next year when hopefully we’ll have it all planted up.

Allotment- what we harvested in July

Oh my word, what a month,

July seemed to be the month when everything arrived at once.

From showing no signs of life we suddenly had broad bean pods. Only a couple but still better than nothing.

After a weekend away we found the first of the beetroot, and picked the last of the first sewing of radishes.

The courgette glut started with 3 courgettes in 1 day and more were to come.

Allotment harvest

The first signs of the tenderstem broccoli arrived. The carrots have perked up, and we’ve picked some of the outer leaves of the rainbow chard.

We’re still waiting the the french beans and the second courgette plant is still really small but all in all it’s been a good month

Pattern review – The Avid Seamstress Blouse

I am definitely someone who buys fabric with a pattern in mind. Partly because I don’t have room for a fabric stash, but also because I don’t like waste fabric. What if you buy way too much or way too little?

This doesn’t mean I don’t have fabric sitting around waiting to be sewn. I have a waiting list of patterns to sew and the accompanying fabric. The Avid Seamstress Blouse was one of those projects.

Avid seamstress – the blouse

I bought this gorgeous dark green viscose from Felicity Fabrics sometime around March and I knew it was going to be the blouse. However I had never sewn buttonholes before, or a collar, or set in sleeves so I was too scared to start.

Come July I decided to take the risk, the weather hasn’t been super warm but it’s been sticky so a light blouse is perfect working from home wear.

The blouse was surprisingly easy to sew up. The instructions are really clear and there are only 4 pattern pieces which means cutting out goes super fast – a definite bonus.

I did struggle a bit with the collar, the inside edge needs catching and I had a few goes of unpicking and finally basting before I got it right. Even so you can see the corners of the collar aren’t quite right.

The sleeves were surprisingly easy to do, unless you are an idiot like me and you sew them wrong side out! The buttonholes were fine too. (Tick one off my how to sew jeans checklist). I think it helped that the edge of the front lined up quite neatly with the edge of my buttonhole foot making it easy to keep things in a straight line.

Excuse the washing up – finding somewhere with good lighting was hard on a grey day

There are a few errors here and there, but the drapery fabric hides many sins. Fit wise I made a size 5. This was quite big for me on the hips and waist but with this pattern the key measurement is the bust. My bust came in just a bit bigger than the 5 but looking at the finished garment measurements it had 3 inches of ease so I took the risk that it would be ok. I think that worked fine but I wouldn’t size down any further than that. I also added about an inch and a half to the length and an additional buttonhole at the button. I’m glad I did this because I have a long body and I think it would have gaped a little at the bottom and shown off my lockdown belly.

I already have some chambray waiting for my next version and I’m intrigued to see how it looks with a more structured fabric. Watch this space

Starting an allotment – July, the one with all the pests and diseases

July was a strange month, wet and cold followed by a heatwave, followed by wet and cold. It was very hard to get anything done and the weeds took over once again.

Despite our best efforts to harvest them small, our courgettes grew to the size of marrows. Some of the tenderstem broccoli flowered within days of us first spotting signs of it growing. The slugs have grown from tiny menaces to giant monsters.

The courgette glut begins

Keeping the cabbage white butterflies out of the brassicas has been a major challenge. Any gap and they make their way through. I’ve tried garlic spray and daily inspections for eggs but a lot of leaves have been eaten. By slugs or caterpillars is less clear.

The tomatoes sadly have blight. Apparently it’s fairly common in this weather and I’ve done a hard prune to try and slow the spread but it seems like their days are numbered. We did manage to get a few red tomatoes already though.

The beetroot however are thriving. My pumpkin plant is flowering, and there are signs of a couple of french beans. Fingers crossed for a drier August where we can spend more time keeping things under control.

Allotment planning

We’ve made good progress on the allotment so far. Our original three beds are full to bursting. We’ve extended the strawberry bed and planted runners for next year. Really the only jobs we have at the moment are weeding and harvesting.

So I’ve started to think about our longer term plans. As normal life begins to slowly resume the number of clear weekends is becoming rarer and it won’t be long before the evenings get shorter, so we’re beginning to plan what we need to do next.

We know we definitely want a small apple tree and lots of fruit bushes and the best time to get these in the ground is Autumn so we want to start work digging those beds.

I’ve been using Veg Plotter to help us map out the space we have available. It’s a great tool to plan what to plant where. You can set the spacing of your plants to make sure you’re allowing enough room, and the month by month function lets you figure out when new space will open up.

Allotment plan

This is what I have in mind so far. Six annual beds divided into squashes, onions and roots, salad vegetables and tomatoes, brassicas, legumes, and potatoes. A long, strawberry bed and two big fruit cages with raspberries, currants, and blackberries. Two trees, one dwarf apple and one dwarf pear – currently researching self-fertile varieties. A rhubarb plant. I’ve been suffering from rhubarb plant envy since we moved in. Then two raised beds, one for herbs and one for asparagus. Plus a small wildflower garden to help the bees.

We’ve pretty much settled on a greenhouse rather than a shed so we can grow melons, peppers, and aubergines. Finally a small patio area so we can enjoy the sunshine if summer ever arrives.

Some things can wait until next spring but I’d like to get a lot of the fruit planting done, and have the greenhouse built in time for sewing seeds next year. So basically we have lots of digging coming up.

How to sew jeans – starting my sewing journey

Since starting sewing I have become a pattern addict. I have so many patterns on my to-sew list and I have to resist buying them all. However one thing stands out, I really want to sew my own jeans,

Finding jeans to fit is my nemesis, I had one really great pair of wide leg jeans many years ago, but since then finding a good pair is a challenge, which is a problem because I live in them. So being able to sew my own pair which doesn’t slide down my hips or squeeze my thighs like sausage casings is my sewing dream.

With that in mind I’ve compiled a plan of skills I need to learn. Not sure if this is everything but here’s what I have so far

1. Tidy top stitching

2. Decorative stitching

3. Buttonholes

4. Zippers

5. Sewing thick fabrics

6. Patched on pockets

7. Sewing denim

8. Fit a pair of trousers

9. Rivets

So this weekend I’m finally going to learn how to sew button holes, wish me luck!

Our first harvest on the allotment

One of the things that worried me when we got the allotment was ‘what if nothing grows?’ It would be pretty depressing if all those hours digging were for nothing.

radish harvest

Luckily I was worrying about nothing and we already have our first harvest. We’ve got strawberries ready to pick and our first harvest of radishes. We grew the radishes from tapes which has resulted in lovely neat rows. We’re staggering the planting so we don’t end up with more than we can eat, and since they only take 4 weeks to grow it’s quite satisfying and is filling a gap while we wait for other slower growing veg.

First strawberries

We’re not expecting a glut of anything this first year, while it’s tempting to dig out more beds we also don’t want to over do it. However our original courgette must have heard us doubting it’s ability to grow as in the space of a couple of weeks it’s expanded to fill every available space and is starting to encroach on the broad beans. Since the black fly have devoured the broad beans anyway we’re not too bothered about this. When it hits the brassica nets we may need to have words…