web analytics

Crop’s a-coming on

That big bad beautiful boy, believe it or don’t, is a Papaver somniferum. An opium poppy. A vividly pink one, They’re perfectly legal to grow here provided you don’t, Scout’s honor, milk them for latex.

We have it on good authority that there are times and places in Sussex when all the poppy seed-heads mysteriously vanish overnight. Generally villages with a high concentration of herbalists.

We have a couple of patches that bloom every year. The blooms are beautiful but short-lived. I mean, the petals fall off very quickly, not that trained herbalists tiptoe into our garden and steal our opium.

We also have a pair of mystery moon vines growing in Uncle B’s raised beds this year. We thought they were cukes, as we grow those and some are recycled through the compost bin and these looked similar. But the flowers, when they came, were enormous, and the things growing on them aren’t cukes.

Best guess, they’re marrows. I don’t know from marrows, but they look like fat spotty zucchinis. Thing is, neither of us has bought a marrow or a zucchini in our miserable lives, so how did they get in our soil?

I’m not big on gourds. Any serving suggestions?


Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: July 1, 2014, 11:01 pm

Sweas, I am given to understand that “marrow” is just the generic Brit term for any of a number of varieties of summer squash. I would assume that you would serve them like zucchini or yellow crookneck squash. If it is a marrow [need to check with someone for sure as there are some strange and non-edible gourds], add to a pasta sauce, or try stir frying with a bit of garlic and Chinese salted black bean [about a TBS chopped up and mashed a bit], might toss in some cut up green onion.

Subotai Bahadur

Comment from CrabbyOldBat
Time: July 1, 2014, 11:05 pm

Thing is, neither of us has bought a marrow or a zucchini in our miserable lives, so how did they get in our soil?

Bird droppings? I have several fig trees in my yard, courtesy of passing birds. Even if marrow seeds are too delicate to pass through a bird intact, the birds could have dropped pieces of stolen marrows in your yard. They are notoriously messy eaters.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: July 1, 2014, 11:24 pm

You can’t be too careful. Make sure you drop the damned thing from beyond 100 yds, & then slit its throat & let it bleed out for a few months. Afterwards, burn down all the nearby buildings, salt the earth, & move to another planet.

Comment from lauraw
Time: July 1, 2014, 11:48 pm

First step is to figure out if it is a summer squash or a winter squash.

fat spotty zucchinis

Or possibly a type of watermelon?

If you don’t care for the fruits, you can’t go wrong with making fritters from the flowers, of course. Delightful.

One of the best ways I’ve had Summer squash is picked quite small, then just cut in large chunks and tossed around in a very hot saute pan with butter for a short while.

If it’s Winter squash, this will be awful, and you must wait until they mature and harden.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: July 1, 2014, 11:59 pm


Sorry, dear, but you can’t negotiate with squashes. Better off killing them & burning their corpses (after marinating the corpses in balsamic vinegar & olive oil).

Comment from PatAZ
Time: July 2, 2014, 1:14 am

Zucchini bread is the best. Lots of recipes online. Yum If it’s just some other kind of squash, use in soups, stews, sauteed with onions. Otherwise, just do as the killers above say.

Comment from Janna
Time: July 2, 2014, 1:30 am

Can we please have a color picture of the poppy? We’ve been really good.

Comment from Nina
Time: July 2, 2014, 2:16 am

I’m with Stark. 🙂

Comment from Mrs Compton
Time: July 2, 2014, 2:52 am

Color please.

Comment from J.S.Bridges
Time: July 2, 2014, 2:53 am

“Sorry, dear, but you can’t negotiate with squashes. Better off killing them & burning their corpses (after marinating the corpses in balsamic vinegar & olive oil).”

Best, by far – take off, then nuke ’em from orbit…it’s the only way to be sure, y’know…

As to those rampant, rampaging herbalists – those wouldn’t, by any chance, be among the poppy-seed harvesting Elves from The Land Of The Golden Arches, now, would they?

After all, those poppy-seed-topped rolls’ve gotta come from someplace, right?…

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: July 2, 2014, 3:01 am

Milk the poppies and inject the latex into the squashes. Or put in on the roots.

Y’know – just to see what happens.

Comment from lauraw
Time: July 2, 2014, 3:11 am

*with difficulty, ignores the squash h8rs*

Well, another thing you can do with Summer squash, if you’re not fond of eating them directly, is grate them up into a saucepan, reduce them down a bit on the stovetop, cool, and bag them for the freezer.

Just do them up in pints, and add these portions to your Winter soups and stews as a thickener and nutritional helper. No one will ever taste or see them after they melt down in the pot. But they add a little sweetness and body.

I like adding the reduced shreds to a pot of chili con carne or burrito filling.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: July 2, 2014, 3:28 am


I don’t hate squishes, dear, I just like them executed in a specific manner: drowned in tasty stuff & then burned.

Comment from Deborah
Time: July 2, 2014, 3:54 am

I love all those squashes and zucchinis. My mother would steam chunks of zucchini (2:1) with fresh diced tomatoes, a clove of smashed garlic, a small amount of minced onion (2 tablespoons maybe,) and some herbs (I like to use a small bit of oregano), salt/pepper as you wish. The only liquid is the juice from the tomatoes. Then a little pat of butter just before serving. It’s fresh and bright, and looks pretty, too. If the skins are tough then peel them off. Steam until barely fork-tender. It’s yummy, and a nice vegetarian dish with a drizzle of olive oil instead of butter.

My brother-in-law would slice them in thick angled/diagonal slices, brush them with olive oil, and grill or broil them. Just as delicious. I’d do the same except I’d pan fry them in a non-stick skillet.

Can you buy Ziploc “Zip ‘n Steam Cooking Bags” (for the microwave) in the U.K.? They work beautifully and I use them all the time.

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: July 2, 2014, 3:55 am

One nice thing about the Curcubits is that the poisonous ones smell and taste absolutely awful.

When I was in South China my allergies were trying to kill me and a prudent man would’ve stayed in his hotel room. Luckily I’ve never been prudent AND my wife still had her Chinese physician’s liscense. I lived on a cocktail of steroids, antihistamines, and tinture of poppy straw.

I have to tell you, IF I could secure a regular supply of that stuff, I wouldn’t just be an addict, I’d were a T shirt announcing the fact.

Comment from mojo
Time: July 2, 2014, 6:00 am

Pods! They’re PODS. The Pod people are here!

Don’t go to sleep!…

Comment from mojo
Time: July 2, 2014, 6:01 am

That’s what I yell at my herbalist when he starts nodding off.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: July 2, 2014, 6:18 am

Okay, but we’re all missing the point: Dead Pool winner gets drawrings on ellyphant-poo paper with traces of opium. Um, but not on purpose, mind you. Total accident there. Shame.

Comment from Can’t Hark My Cry
Time: July 2, 2014, 3:39 pm

I’m not particularly fond of summer squash–but Deborah’s BIL’s approach is good, particularly if you let the slices sit on a rack and dry out a bit before you grill them.

And ratatouille is always an option, if’n y’all happen to have the eggplant, mushrooms, and fennel bulbs. Well, and the tomatoes, olive oil and herbs.

Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: July 2, 2014, 4:26 pm

I think I’m going to be able to use the word “opium” in a sentence! Here goes:

I opium mother is feeling better.

(Well, maybe not. Guess it didn’t work any better for me than it did for Dorothy Parker.)

“Marrows”? I recall Hercule Poirot talking about growing vegetable marrows in one of Agatha Christie’s mysteries. I always wondered what the centers of bones had to do with gardens.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: July 2, 2014, 6:37 pm

A friend of mine adapted my stuffed pepper recipe and used big courgettes instead. She said it was yummy, Stuffed pepper recipe is just onions sweated with red capsicum diced fine, mince, almost-cooked rice, tomato purée with Worcester sauce, black pepper and salt.

Comment from Bikeboy
Time: July 2, 2014, 6:58 pm

The Missus prepares zucchini in much the same way as several people have noted (with other “zesty flavor enhancers”)… but she also sometimes puts fried bacon bits in the mix. EVERYTHING tastes better with bacon – even the Brits know that!

Comment from JeffS
Time: July 2, 2014, 7:16 pm

If you don’t want to eat them, you can always hollow and dry them out as canteens, cups, bowls, etc. Or make rattles to sell to the local hippies.

Comment from RealMc
Time: July 2, 2014, 9:49 pm

How about a full color pic of that flower ya got there…..

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 2, 2014, 10:20 pm

M’okay then. Click for color. Biggish file.

Comment from Sockless Joe
Time: July 3, 2014, 12:07 am

Eh, if they’re more like summer squash, grill ’em. If they’re more like butternut, bake/roast with brown sugar/molasses.

Comment from Mike James
Time: July 3, 2014, 7:35 am

Bake zucchini in a deep dish with bacon layered on top. My mother puts thick zucchini slices in soups or stews. I suppose you could put it in your stir fry. Beyond that, I’ve got nothin’.

People who garden round where I live customarily let loose a plague of zucchini on their friends and neighbors when harvest time rolls around. After the tenth or twentieth year one wants to drop politeness and courtesy and start screaming “No!” at them when they roll up with a big box of free zucchini that they want you to have.

Comment from Lipstick
Time: July 4, 2014, 10:05 am

Hmm. At first glance I thought it was a peony. I wander if they are related.

Comment from RealMc
Time: July 4, 2014, 12:42 pm

Beautiful pic !! thx…… :o)

Comment from online bingo
Time: September 21, 2014, 12:27 am

I do not even know ɦow I ended uƿ herе, but Ι thought this pοst
was great. I do not know who you are but certainly you are going to a
famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!

Write a comment

(as if I cared)

(yeah. I'm going to write)

(oooo! you have a website?)

Beware: more than one link in a comment is apt to earn you a trip to the spam filter, where you will remain -- cold, frightened and alone -- until I remember to clean the trap. But, hey, without Akismet, we'd be up to our asses in...well, ass porn, mostly.

<< carry me back to ol' virginny