After months of waiting and surviving high winds and blown over greenhouses, we finally starting seeing the fruits of our labour. Or should that be vegetables of our labour.
One morning I looked out the window to discover a bright yellow flower bobbing itself head among my courgette plants.
I rushed outside to investigate.
Sure enough, the courgette plant had bloomed.
And what a gorgeous flower it is. Delicious, too, apparently. Not that we were going to be eating it. Fingers crossed this baby was going to become our first home-grown courgette.
While I started mentally eating this unformed veg a thought popped into my mind: Our young courgette (summer squash) plant will need to become an adult, reach maturity and ‘pop its cherry.’ Our courgette plant will need to be fertilized.
Living on the 5th floor in a fairly plant and treeless area, bees are not a typical sight. In fact I had only witnessed one and that was a few weeks before, drowsy and slow, continuously bumping into the window pane then flopping down, exhausted and bewildered waiting for us to carry him back outside.
I started leaving the greenhouse unzipped and peered out the window every hour an hour, hoping and praying for a bee to appear.
As expected, no such luck. So, as in all crises, I turned to Google.
A quick search later and I knew what I had to do. Using a paintbrush or cotton bud, we would have to dip and dab into the male and female flowers, inseminating them. How romantic.
The only problem was we only had the one flower. A female.
So I waited a few days, hopefully peeking through the blinds, fingers crossed for a male flower to burst through.
But in the mean time, the females, having taken months to prepare, preen and make themselves perfect, started to give up and wilt in the brief British sunshine. And, in typical male fashion, the men were yet to arrive, still dozing in their hoods, unaware of the opportunity they were missing.
I sat back and hoped that one of them would wake up soon and realise what he was missing out on. And sure enough, a few days later, a male plant decided to show its face.
Armed with my paintbrush I set out on a courgette sex mission.
A few quick jabs and dabs and it was all over.
Over the coming weeks, more flowers popped up and I started seeing insects crawling in and out the star-shaped flowers covered in dustings of pollen, so I put the paintbrush away and left Mother Nature to it.
And sure enough, she came through. We now have fully grown courgettes.
We ate our first two last week and despite having slightly tough skins, they were delicious. Another is waiting in our fridge and we have plenty more still sprouting up and out of the plant.
Our first year of growing our own and we did it! We made edible, organic vegetables.
Watch out world, this is only the beginning.