31 Jul 2011

Saturday Snap: Beauty among the Beasts

Beauty and the beast

Two weeks ago I wrote about the Zucchini Chop, an exercise in removing unnecessary leaves from my courgette plants to direct energy to the fruit.  Since then I've enjoyed a daily exhibition of beautiful new flowers and tender leaves emerging to protect the fruit while the remaining leaves have swiftly grown to fill the gap left after the cutback.  The plants now stand proud, healthy and large once more in their space - a dual edged sword as it happens.  On the plus side, children are reluctant to race down the narrow path in the middle of the veg patch for fear of scratching their shins but, not so good, is that smaller children (the under-5s) are less able to easily access the beds for watering, a task they like to help with.  I think it may be time for a few more leaves to come off!

The above photo was actually taken in the evening. I like to just have a little meander round, check on the progress of recent sowings (peas, parsley, carrots all growing well), perhaps pick a few sweet peas or sample a raspberry or two (autumn raspberries just coming into fruit) or munch a freshly picked spinach leaf. I intend to make some more stuffed fried courgette flowers (absolutely delicious, more on this with recipe in the next post) so was counting the flowers that were ready for this. Peering through the larger leaves, this beauty caught my eye, it's yellow petals singing out, the dusk light lending an almost purple tinge to the soil below. I think this may be one of my favourite snaps! (I do love my veg.)

Some tips with today's Saturday Snap:

1) Identifying courgette flowers:  male flowers are long and slender on a slim stalk, almost like a rose.  Female flowers are the ones that make the courgettes and have plumper flowers on a chubbier stem. The female stem looks like it will become a courgette; in some cases the slender courgette can be picked with the flower still attached and the whole thing battered and quickly fried. Delicious.

2) Encouraging more fruit: It's essential to leave some male flowers; without them, bees have no pollen to carry across to the female flowers. It's this act that pollinates the flower, causing the courgette fruit to form.

3) Photographing veg:  evening light - if you catch it right - is so much more forgiving than harsh middle of the day sunlight. The midday sun creates hard shadows and burnt out texture in photos;  however great the subject may look to the naked eye, I'm always disappointed with the results if I photograph in strong light. The veg patch is shaded by late afternoon and the last of the day's sun is sometimes reflected back onto the veg by being bounced off nearby windows. This is a perfect time (around 6 - 7pm) in the summer to take photos.


  1. Good post Caro and a lovely 'snap'. I agree with you about the evening light, but early morning light is equally good I think, I like the sunshadows through the leaves, especially on runner beans. That is when we have some sun. I did try cutting a few base leaves off the courgettes as they only get stood on anyway.

  2. Thanks Elaine and yes, early morning light can be equally lovely. The veg patch, however, gets zapped as soon as the sun appears - even at half six! We learn to work with what we've got! x

  3. An excellent photo Caro which not only captures the yellowness but also the green veins in the flower. There are some beautiful vegetable flowers out there. Good tip about avoiding the midday sun ~ in fact better altogether to avoid sunny days altogether ~ at least when it comes to taking photos.

  4. We remove unneccessary leaves too. The more energy going in to producing flowers and fruit the better!

    We've had a ton of courgettes this year, so it must be working!

    Martin :0)

  5. I've never known this about giving my courgettes the chop, I shall be getting to grips with them straight away! - a very informative post, thank you x

  6. Anna, thank you for the compliment on my photo. I agree there are some beautiful veg flowers; I take so many pictures, it's hard to choose sometimes!

    Martin and Amy, I'm pleased to hear you do the same! I hadn't heard of doing this before my neighbour told me about it and, yes, it seems to work very well!

    Freerangegirl, don't go too mad! Take a few lower leaves to begin with, keep watering well and see how the plants develop. Mine have gone bonkers so it's time to take a few more leaves off.

  7. I've not grown courgettes this year but will bear in mind this post for when I do next year! Flighty xx

  8. Good shot, I've never really noticed the veining in courgette flowers before. Will have to look more closely. Have been following your tip of hacking off courgette leaves, it works a treat, though they aren't the nicest of things to have to wrestle into the compost heap...

  9. Flighty, this was my first year of growing courgettes and I'll certainly be growing these again next year. Apart from the harvest and the structural beauty of these plants, the leaves have provided a useful barrier against intruders! Next year, I'll be growing these at the entrance to the veg patch! Caro xx

  10. Janet, I'm glad the advice worked for you! My plants have just had their second chop and are looking really healthy. The chopped leaves fill the compost nicely but I have to balance that with a few dry leaves or shredded egg boxes as they can be quite wet!

  11. If only I could be up at dawn, would snap then. The evening shade is equally good and providing some relief from this prickly heat

  12. Laura/Patiopatch, I confess I prefer strolling around in the cool of the evening but it's quieter in the mornings here (especially in the school holidays!) so it's worth getting up early for that!


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