February in the kitchen and garden
Zucchini, zucchini everywhere! It’s that time of the year when the zucchini begins to take over the garden, one minute they are small and shiny, and the next they’re big enough to use for a stand-up paddle board.
A great plant to grow in your home or school vegetable garden, the fruit just keeps on coming and quickly. My two-year-old niece Bessie and I would harvest a basket of baby ‘bikinis’ each morning while she was visiting from Queensland this Summer and the excitement in a child’s eyes is a wonderful thing when they see the young zucchini ready to pick. With zucchini in hand, we would head to the kitchen to prepare a beautiful meal, apron on and standing on her stool, Bessie was always very keen to cook and more so to eat. It’s a beautiful journey for a child to see the connection from garden to table, and I believe, they will always eat what they have grown.
My favourite varieties are the Black Jack and the paler striped Romanesco. The best time of the year to plant zucchini in a temperate climate is September to January, October to December in a cool climate and if you are up in the Northern region of Australia, all year round. Zucchini thrives in full sun, with some afternoon shade and plenty of ventilation. It can be grown in large pots, but water frequently and avoid wetting the leaves. Around two plants should keep a family of four going throughout the season. Avoid the temptation to plant too many, as you will struggle to consume them as quickly as they grow, with the odd one or ten becoming too big and tasteless. And we have all received a bag of oversized bland zucchini at some point in our lives, so you can stop right there!
In February the planting season for zucchini is over for most parts of Australia, However, it is the best time to enjoy harvesting and there are many recipe options. You can make zucchini fritters, grill them on the BBQ or roast them in the oven, add them to pasta sauces or curries, stuff the flowers, add them to a salad, preserve and pickle and even grate into bread and cakes. But, let’s not forget the magic of the ‘zoodle’. For those who have not been exposed to the zoodle experience, it’s making noodles from raw zucchini and using them as a substitute for pasta or other noodles is a great gluten-free option. The process is simple and done using a spiraliser, and they come in many different forms and are relatively cheap to purchase.
Well, it’s time to get back into the garden and check on the zucchini plants.
By Jacqui Lanarus
Community Outreach Program Manager