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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 24 January, 2019

GIY: Make your own mildew spray and bake some courgette bread

Courgette bread might sound a little unlikely, but we’re in courgette glut central at the moment so desperate times call for desperate measures, writes Michael Kelly.

Michael Kelly Gardener

AROUND THE MIDDLE to end of August each year my thoughts generally turn to the winter, and particularly what I am going to sow to help us through the winter months.

Hopefully, we will have lots of crops in storage such as potatoes, onions, carrots, parsnips, beetroot etc, but I also like to have lots of fresh green leaves to eat all winter long if I can.

If it feels weird to be thinking about the winter in the middle of summer, bear in mind that doing a sowing of oriental and other hardy greens around now will really pay dividends later on.

There is very little growth left in this growing season – so this is really our last chance to sow some seeds. (Although, if you are lucky enough to have a greenhouse or polytunnel you can continue sowing for transplanting into them until September or even October).

Fast growing and leafy

Wild Miner's Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) Growing In Santa Monica Mountains Source: Gary Kavanagh

Oriental greens are a fast growing leafy plant, mainly from the brassica family. Some of them we might be familiar with – komatsuna, mizuna, mibuna and mustard – but there is a huge variety of these greens out there so they will provide great variety in the kitchen.

The beauty of them is that they are so well suited to sowing at this time of the year. In fact, if you sow them earlier, they tend to bolt prematurely. They are also incredibly quick growing – you can start harvesting some leaves as early as three weeks after sowing.

You can either sow them direct in the soil or sow in modules for later transplanting. A lot depends on how you intend to harvest them – they are great as a “cut and come again” crop – in other words, you snip small, tender leaves at ground level with a scissors and allow them to grow back again (sowing direct is ideal for this).

Or, you can allow the plants to grow more substantial and use the large leaves in stir-fries etc (sowing in modules ideal for this).

As well as oriental greens, I also sow in late August and September (for later transplanting to the tunnel) claytonia, chard, winter lettuce and perpetual spinach.

The Basics – Make your own Mildew Spray

Make your own organic mildew spray – Mix half a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda with a pint of soapy water in a spray bottle. Add a drop of vegetable oil (which will help it to stick to dry leaves).

Spray both sides of leaves of vulnerable plants (eg dill, parsley, parsnips, peas, beans, carrots, turnips, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, beets, etc).

Recipe of the Week – Courgette Bread

shutterstock_359639867 Source: Shutterstock

Courgette bread might sound a little unlikely, but we’re in courgette glut central at the moment so desperate times call for desperate measures. And this James Ramsden recipe is very tasty indeed.


  • 400g courgettes, peeled and grated
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 250ml sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 500g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • A pinch each of nutmeg, allspice, and salt


Whisk the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla thoroughly. Mix the dry ingredients and tip in the wet, stirring to form a smooth batter. It will seem quite stiff but the courgettes loosen it up.

Now fold in the grated courgettes and tip into 2 greased loaf tins. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for an hour and a quarter. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning onto a cooling rack.

Michael Kelly is founder of GIY and GROW HQ. 

Click here for more GIY tips and recipes.


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Michael Kelly  / Gardener

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