Fiori di Zucca Fritti

Posted in food, gardening

This year, Michael and I made a new bed in the garden. By “made a new bed” what I really mean is that we haphazardly dumped half-finished, quite stinky, “failed experiment” compost on top of a layer of cardboard arranged in the shape of a rectangle on the lawn, covered everything with a thick layer of straw, and plopped some transplants in there. Most of the time gardeners tend to avoid planting in unfinished compost because it uses the nitrogen in the soil to continue breaking down, which means that there is less nitrogen available for the plants. Sure enough, the leaves of the plants in the new bed started yellowing, but sprinkling some chicken manure over the bed right before a couple of thunderstorms brought them back to a nice happy green.

But the reason I’m talking about (sometimes half-finished) compost has nothing to do with nitrogen or chicken poo or even compost, but rather my favorite thing about using it— volunteer plants! They are the most delightful surprise. A week or two after we made the bed, it was bursting with seedlings that I’d never planted to begin with! Most abundant among these were volunteer squash and melon plants. With only a few grape tomato plants this year instead of the usual crop of big juicy red tomatoes, and along with all the cucumber, zucchini, and squash I had already planted, in our garden this is the year of Cucurbitaceae

Sure, at first I was envious of the neighbor’s towering forest of tomatoes, but now that these vines have created their own little green canopy and are bursting with big bright yellow blooms, I can’t help but make peace with the ebbs and flows of the garden from year to year. So instead, I adopted a new motto— When life gives you squash plants, make Fiori di Zucca Fritti! :)

Equal parts flour and water, a splash of beer or sparkling water, and salt, pepper, herbs, & spices to taste. Dunk the flowers in, fry, and enjoy!

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