This is a tale of two zucchinis. To tell the tale, you first have to learn how to spell zucchinis, which no matter how many “c”s or “n”s you put in there, just looks wrong. But that’s not part of the story. Actually, the story is kind of long, so if you want to continue, I will give you the option to click on the more button.
The story starts in early spring, when I figured that this would be the year to have the vegetable garden of all gardens. Actually, I think that thinking started a little earlier when the chilling February rains never seemed to end and we were seriously thinking of escaping to Mexico. I started (again) to learn Spanish and did a lot of fantasizing about a carefree lifestyle.
As the economy dipped lower and lower, though, I thought about my grandmother, who survived the Great Depression with a garden full of potatoes, because the locusts and grasshoppers came through Colorado and ate everything above ground, and so all they had to eat were the below-ground tubers and wormy rabbits. This wasn’t just another “when I was your age, I walked 5 miles to school, barefoot through the snow, and felt it was a privilege…” sort of stories.
I went down to our local farm store and bought 3 kinds of potatoes, beans, corn, tomatoes, and an assortment of greens and colorful root veggies. I would feed our entire family with this garden – and we have 5 grown children with families of their own, so that means a lot. My daughter particularly likes zucchinis; the grandkids like a pumpkin patch; I was salivating over the idea of freshly grated cucumber sandwiches with cream cheese. And yes, I am old enough to know better.
Undaunted, I planted seeds in our little greenhouse, located across the field where we could bolt it to the fence so it wouldn’t blow away in the coastal winds that frequently rip through here. Locals face the west and wisely say, “Yes, there is a system coming in.” I think about going into the kite business. But that’s not for this blog.
All through the Ides of March, the greenhouse shuddered, but the shelves held their ground. I had carefully put labels in each pot or tray. The “Black Beauty” cukes, I admit, looked a lot like their zucchini cousins (or was it the zukes that were the Black Beauties?). No matter. I kept everything labeled, separated, and in order. I watered them with diluted worm tea. This was going to be the best garden ever.
Then I broke my foot. I could go on about how the ground jumped up at me as I stepped off the deck, but the real issue was how to get the garden in the ground.
We all need to learn a little sensitivity when it comes to recognizing the challenges people with physical disabilities deal with on a daily basis. One thing I learned is that it is not easy to carry things – like trays full of plants – when you need both hands to handle crutches.
Suffice to say it took a long time, but dang – I got that garden in – corn, beans, tomatoes, zukes, cukes, and brassicas — the whole piccalilli ratatouille.
And then there was the weeding, watering, and all those other loving & caring jobs that had to be done scooting around on my butt. I got down to earth with my new friends. I was going to train the cukes up a trellis, but they seemed to be more of a hardy bush variety rather than a vine, and to tell you the truth, they looked a lot like the zucchinis. I gave them all more worm tea and a little fish fertilizer foliar spray. They loved me.
When the first cucumber was ready, I was ecstatic. I bit a little piece off one end — not a hint of bitterness. I sliced it on a plate and sprinkled it with a little salt. Not a lot of juice drained out – meaty and clean. I savored each bite. Quite mild, really; almost bland. Fresh.
A couple of days later I went out to find more cukes and to see whether any zucchinis were making an appearance. To my amazement, bordering horror, I discovered not one cucumber, but closer to a dozen extremely large, elongated, very-much-like squash-looking fruits. These were not your normal cukes. These were cukes on steroids.
Now off my crutches, I raced to my stash of seed packets. The evidence was overwhelming. The cuke packet was unopened. I had planted not 6 – which still would have been a lot – but 16 (since I couldn’t bear to throw any sprouts away) zucchinis!
Zucchinis are taking over with wild abandon. I have given them to family and friends, made breads and stir fries, grilled them, baked them, pureed them. I have sung sonatas of frittatas. I have given them to the Food Bank, and I truly think the world would never go hungry as long as we have this incredible plant. It is the rabbit of the vegetable world. It is obsessed with an overwhelming instinct to reproduce and reproduce and reproduce. I am leaving them to fend for themselves, and I warn you, they have gone ferral.
I know I need to be held accountable for my irresponsible actions. My next post will be about things you can do with zucchini that your mother never told you.
Oh – and the answer to the above question? If you guessed a dozen, you were way off! Try 19 – yes – nineteen zucchini stacked in that bowl!