Growing my own spaghetti

Did you know that you can grow your own spaghetti? When we first went into lockdown any type of pasta was difficult to buy. My on-line shop did not have any for weeks. I suppose it is a staple food it’s easy to store and is the basis of a lot of popular recipes. But you could not get any.

I had an answer. We must think differently these days. I would grow some. I don’t mean like the shop bought type, which is made from wheat and water, cut into lengths. Mine was to be from a plant that makes strands ready to cook. If I am successful, I will be able to harvest fruit about the size of a rugby ball. You scoop out the flesh of tangled threads, exactly right for a Bolognese.

We bought spaghetti marrow seeds. I have grown these before and they are easy. Germination was rapid, two big first oval leaves quickly grew. Then the big marrow leaves came. They were in a sheltered place in the garden and had plenty of manure.

Next, the big trumpet yellow flowers appeared and then came the round fruits. They were about the size of an apple, it was a good sign, but that is how they stayed – small and green. For some reason they did not swell. No amount of care and coaxing made any difference. Just when I needed them most – they failed.

We started again and put the rest of the seeds in a pot, then transplanted them. They grew and now they are flowering. The male flowers come first. You can tell the difference between the male and female flowers because the female has the little ball underneath – it must be fertilized. Usually insects do this but they are in short supply at this time of year. I have used a paint brush to take pollen from one flower to another.

Our mountain ash tree has been full of bright red berries hanging temptingly for the birds. Normally, they are there for the migrants like redwings and fieldfares when they arrive from Scandinavia. But this strange year the blackbirds have eaten the lot. I watched them start at the top and eat their way down. Often covering the tree, they tumbled and jostled like acrobats until, in just a few days, the tree was stripped bare.

The migrant birds will have to change their plans when they arrive this autumn. They will need to find something else to eat, just as I will if my spaghetti marrows don’t swell. That is what this year has been like.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)


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