Gluts are familiar to everyone that grows vegetables…one day you’re yearning for whatever it is to ripen, next day you’ve got too many of the damn things. At the moment it’s courgettes. Worse still with courgettes, one day they are small, tender and succulent, next day - literally next day - they’re socking great marrows, no good to man nor beast unless you like stuffing them. Which leads of course to the problem of what to do with them: daily consumption can get a tad boring and there’s a limit to what the neighbours will want. Head chef Rosie luckily has come up with courgette pancakes and courgette soufflé, both of which are strokes of culinary genius and which, for a small fee, she will let you have the recipes of.
Anyway, this year our two courgette plants have shared a bed with a couple of cucumbers and last Saturday, when Rosie was harvesting the day’s zucchini overload, she spotted, lurking underneath an overgrown courgette leaf, a curious version of a cucumber. It was a three-in-oner, a siamese triplet cucumber, no less. See for yourself:
This was interesting because earlier in the year we’d grown, quite by accident, a misshapen foxglove with very similar characteristics. Have a look:
If you’re still with me, this is where you need to concentrate. Apparently this sort of strange growth is known as ‘fasciation’. It’s a relatively rare condition and occurs in vascular plants in which the apical meristem (the growing tip), which normally is concentrated around a single point and produces cylindrical tissue instead becomes elongated perpendicularly to the direction of growth thus producing flattened, ribbon-like crested or elaborately contorted tissue. These deformities can be caused by hormonal, genetic, bacterial, fungal, viral or environmental conditions - take your pick - and can occur in almost any kind of plant. So now you know.
Talking of things changing from one thing to another (and of Rosie’s gastronomic skills) this is what happens to crabapples from one day to the next. Pity we haven’t got a glut of them… Alys Fowler’s crabapple gin recipe sounds interesting.