6 September 2014, by gj
Not all zucchini are created equal.
Here are a few common thoughts about this misunderstood garden plant:
1. Zucchini are dark green.
The most common varieties of zucchini grown and seen in grocery stores are dark green, but there are a number of zucchini varieties that are different colors and even striped. Zucchini are squashes that were taken from America to Italy, developed there and brought back. They aren’t all green. Pictured above is Zucchino Rampicante, a beautiful shade of yellow.
2. Zucchini are very prolific.
They can be, and certainly the hybrids bred for market selling are. But most of the heirloom varieties produce far less. Here are two we favor.
3. Zucchini grow as a bush.
Again refer to the photo above. This zucchini is growing as a vine, as do a few other varieties. These are a great way to save space in the garden.
4. Zucchini are a summer squash.
Technically, yes. A squash is classified as a summer type if it has a thin skin. These are harvested throughout the summer and not stored fresh over the cooler months, as the thin skin will deteriorate too fast.
Conversely, winter squashes develop a thick skin by the end of the growing season, are generally harvested then, and stored in a cool area.
There are exceptions to every rule.
Some summer squashes, as is the case with the zucchini pictured, can develop a harder rind and then be treated as a winter squash.
Pretty neat, huh?
5. Zucchini are bland tasting.
The ones you buy at the market that have been grown primarily for high yield have a tendency to be bland, as do even ones developed for their productivity that you grow at home.
This is in comparison to some of the heirloom varieties that produce less, but IMHO are much better tasting zucchini.
Mandolin Jones, the cook, will only use heirloom types. Not that he is a foodie snob, he just doesn’t think the other zucchini are worth eating.
6. Zucchini should be picked at a certain size.
Some people who consider themselves zucchini connoisseurs will insist a zucchini be harvested at about 6-8 inches. Anyone who has ever grown one knows that their size can change a lot in one day.
It really depends on how you are going to use them. For a stir fry or ratatouille, sure the smaller size is better. Less or no seeds to deal with, and the veggie is more tender. For zucchini bread or especially if you are going to stuff the zucchini, you can or even need to have them bigger.
7. Zucchini can cross pollinate with other squashes.
They can, but only with other squashes that also have the botanical name Cucurbita pepo. This is a good example of why knowing the Latin name can help you. Other examples of Cucurbita pepo are pumpkins, crookneck, patty pan and acorn squash.
8. Zucchini are vegetables.
Technically, since they develop from an ovary, they are fruit. Not that this information changes anything, you’re certainly not going to toss them with some grapes and strawberries; but learning something new is good for your brain so we through it in here.
9. Zucchini cannot be frozen.
Obviously they can if you have the right equipment, or you wouldn’t be able to buy frozen zucchini. But for the home grower, freezing zucchini generally turns it to mush. Many people grate the zucchini, and freeze in the right quantities for zucchini bread. We have been freezing ours as zucchini burgers.
It’s all good and a wonderful way to have that fresh veggie taste all winter long.
Categories: How to Grow, squash
29 July 2014, by gj
First this one popped up.
My husband Mandolin Jones always jokes that “Two zucchini plants are at least one too many.”
It is not hard to understand his thinking.
Back in our restaurant days it what quite common for us to find ‘donations’ of surplus green squash on our stoop.
The local gardeners knew they would not go to waste.
So over the years we kind of backed off on the zucchini.
We tried a few varieties, including one hybrid called Cashflow, that would have lived up to its name if we were selling them.
If was only a few years ago that an heirloom called Costata Romanesco caught my eye. It wasn’t very prolific, but distinctive in its appearance and the taste was far superior to any others we had grown.
I’ll admit I got caught up in trying new varieties, forgot about that one, and Mandolin seemed less than interested in any of them.
It wasn’t until this past spring when I found a small packet of seeds I had saved, that I thought about that delightful heirloom. Hoping that the parent plant had not cross pollinated with another squash, I gave it a go.
And gone it was.
Apparently either the birds or the voles took the seeds, or so I thought.
So I planted again.
As good luck would have it, 1 of the first batch did finally sprout, then later on 2 from the second sowing.
Older seeds don’t always germinate as well as fresh ones.
So on a recent walk through the garden Mandolin asked “Is this zucchini?”
“And this is zucchini too, right? Three plants?”
He paused, and took a closer look.
“Is that the delicious variety you grew a few years ago?”
“Yes, yes it is.”
“Good,” he said, “I liked those.”
Sometimes I guess, you just get lucky.
More on this variety.
Zucchini- When 2 Plants are are Least One Too Many on Pinterest
28 September 2013, by gj
Is it one of these?
We started three types of squash seeds indoors, and planted them in the new garden area.
Which variety was where, was clearly marked. Somewhat unusual for us.
Looks like a squash.
This was the first fruit to develop where we planted the Kikuza squash. Only, well, it didn’t look like the picture on the seed packet.
In fact, it didn’t look like any of the pictures.
The skin was a dark green, and spotted. Much like the Sweet Baby watermelon growing nearby, also started indoors.
On closer examination though, it had a squash stem and certainly they were squash leaves.
So we decided all we could do is wait and see.
Then this popped up in the same area.
Will the real Kikuza stand up?
Obviously this one was a Kikuza squash. Though much larger, it looked like the picture on the seed packet.
Then the first squash started turning orange.
Now we know enough to be sure that this fruit cannot be the result of a cross pollination from our plants, for two reasons:
1. Crosses only show up in the next generation, and
2. We specifically chose varieties that cannot cross with each other.
Neat! Did we get an accidental hybrid in the seeds we purchased?
Is this a cross between a Tatume, which is a variety of zucchini and a pumpkin?
What do these have in common?
Then I remembered something I had read about the Tatume squash- even though it is a summer squash, if it is left on the vine long enough, it will develop a hard rind and can be stored like a winter squash.
So we looked up some images of Tatume, and sure enough there were pics that showed it in the green-turning-to-orange stage.
Gardening can be so much fun!
On the down side, we only did get one fruit.
And as much as we are anxious to taste it, we also want to see how it stores.
So into cold holding our Tatume zucchini goes, and we’ll let you know what happens.
Talk about ‘playing with your food’.
9 August 2013, by gj
When spring finally arrives each year, the garden plans are well thought out and written down.
Things happen, right? The voles stole a number of our seeds and seedlings this year. It snowed in May. Go figure.
So plans change and don’t always get written down.
Sure, we know where the Kuri, Dishpan Cushaw, Tatume, Zucchini and Kikuza squash are.
Those went according to our map.
But when the voles took off with the Tennessee Sweet Potato squash seeds, did we replace them with the same kind?
And… what other squash did we decide to add to the Three Sisters Bed but not write down?
#1 Looks familiar.
Then there is the new strawberry bed, somewhat sparse and with an unplanned planting of ‘six squash mounds’.
We must have figured that a squash is easily recognizable when it grows, and usually it is.
More so if you have grown it before, or at least have a picture of one.
#2 Have you seen this squash before?
So for your consideration here are just 3 of the squash that are waiting on identification.
We have an idea about 2 of them, but aren’t positive.
Most likely, they are from the seed packets pictured above, but no guarantee on that either.
#3 Would be an educated guess.
What do you think? Can you name squashes #1, 2 and 3?
Thanks for your help, there may be more UGO on the way.
12 July 2013, by gj
The first are always the best.
Mandolin Jones jokes that two zucchini plants are “at least one too many.”
It’s true, there have been years where we have been inundated with zucchini. This year probably won’t be any different.
I tried to restrain myself, really.
So we only have three plants of Cashflow Zucchini in the garden, and three more of an heirloom type called Tatume.
What’s interesting about squash is that they usually produce male flowers for a while before they start producing females.
What’s odd is that the Cashflow did the opposite.
And since I want to save the heirloom seeds, the two types are nowhere near each other.
So when there were male blossoms on the Tatume and no females, and females on the Cashflow but no males, what needed to be done was obvious.
Now you see, we are trying to avoid GMO foods, and since much of the store zucchini is just that, we don’t buy it.
From fall until the garden produces, we don’t eat fresh summer squash.
It really makes you want it all the more…
never thought we’d be jonesin’ for zucchini.
So those male blossoms were plucked, and brought to the females.
Now we have two really good looking squash soon to be ready to harvest.
And thoroughly enjoyed.
While I have no intention of mentioning this to Mandolin, I will admit that if need be, I’d do it again.
Categories: extending the season, How to Grow, squash, techniques
11 January 2013, by gj
They are so cute when they are babies.
If you want to save the seeds from your squash, but are concerned about cross pollination and growing some freakish veggie the following year, the answer is simple:
Squash only cross with others in the same species; so if you choose only one from each species, you can rest assured.
Unless your neighbor is growing squash, then I can’t help you.
Here they come.
Simply choose one from each group:
Curcubita pepo (the most popular)
Most Pumpkins, all summer squash inc. yellow squash and zucchini, many winter squashes including Acorn, Delicata, Tuffy, Sweet Dumpling, Honeybear, Spaghetti Squash
Most of the Kabochas and Hubbards, Buttercups, Australian Butter, Big Max Pumpkin, Pink Banana
Butternut varieties, Black Futsu, most of the Crooknecks, Kikuz
Cushaw varieties, Hindu White Crookneck Pumpkin, Japanese Pie, Tenessee Sweet Potato
beauty in the veggie garden
The list goes on, really there are so many types of squash that it would be fun to add a new type from one group each year. This would also insure that you maintain a good supply of seeds.
Remember also to choose a variety that is either an heirloom or open pollinated, not a hybrid, for saving seeds. Also, beware of volunteer squash coming from the compost.
Watch out for intruders!
Some seed companies that give you the plants’ botanical names include Seed Savers Exchange, Johnny’s Select Seeds, Baker Creek, and Territorial Seed Company. You’ll notice that in many cases the first part of the name is abbreviated, such as C. pepo and C. mixta. Having this information at hand makes planning much easier.
Here’s how to grow a variety of squash vertically.
Categories: all about seeds, How to Grow, squash
16 October 2012, by gj
“For Search Engine Optimization you should always use your keywords in your title…”
“Terms like ‘How-to’ and numbers, as in lists, are more likely to be picked up by search engines.”
“Include at least one internal and one external link.”
“Reuse your keyword multiple times in the same post.”
“..proper use of Bold and Italics, taglines…”
blah blah blah. Wise info I guess, from the blogging gurus.
This is a post about growing squash vertically, not an attempt at SEO; and since I prefer song references as post titles, I’m going to laugh in the face of the Search Engines as well as the rule books, and just give this post a bizarre title while giving you all the info I intend to, and still fulfilling all the SEO Req’s… So here goes…
heirloom and vining
Here’s the deal- squash take up a lot of valuable space.
Even a zucchini plant will grow a good 1-2 feet in every direction. Those darn winter squash spread out all over.
So what can you do if space is limited? -And face it, unless and well, even if you have a farm, space is valuable no matter how much you have.
So grow up!
“Yeah, right GJ. I haven’t been gardening long, but even I know you can’t grow a zucchini vertically. And those winter squashes are just too heavy.”
Muhahaha! my young gardening friend…
actually, yes you can.
small enough to grow up
There are summer squashes, aka ‘zucchini’ that grow vertically, albeit a few.
And there are winter squashes that mature at a smaller size.
If you look at these 4 seed packets, you will find all vining squash
(in list form with external links at the end):
1. Tatume- Cucurbita pepo A summer squash, vining- that can also be left to ripen as a winter squash. That’s some serious squash!
2. Red Kuri- Cucurbita maxima A winter squash that only grows 5-10 lbs. each, so could be supported vertically with a sling.
3. Dishpan Cushaw- Cucurbita mixta A good keeper that grows wide but not long. This one’s a little camera shy.
4. Squah Kikuza- Cucurbits moschata A small Japanese heirloom pumpkin that only grows to 4-7 pounds.
Are you wondering why I included the botanical names? These are all heirloom seeds, so by planting different varieties that cannot cross pollinate (there’s that dern internal link), you can be more assured of your seed purity should you decide to save them.
Ahh… I see my young gardening friend, but you already knew that!
Sometimes lessons are more readily learned without rule books, but with just plain old common sense.
More on Tatume
More on Red Kuri
More on Dishpan Cushaw
More on Squash Kikuza
Blame it all on my roots…The song reference.
Categories: faq's, squash, techniques
22 July 2011, by gj
see the tiny fruit
I often get asked “I have a lot of squash flowers, but no squash. Why?” and “Why are my zucchini (or courgettes) shriveling up and falling off?”
I get the same questions for winter squash.
Squash have male and female flowers.
The females have little tiny babies at the base, the males only have stems.
When the squash first start producing flowers, they provide plenty of males to get ready for when the females start to show up.
So if you have a lot of flowers and no fruit, this may be why.
This is a good time to eat Stuffed Squash Flowers.
When the females arrive they need to be fertilized by the males.
This is most naturally accomplished by bees or other bugs moving from the male to the female flower.
If you see your fruit falling off, the most likely answer is that the fruit were never fertilized.
You can lend a hand.
You can move the pollen from the male to the female using a cotton swab or paintbrush.
My favorite way is to just pick the male flower and rub it on the female.
You’ll need to get to them early in the morning, as squash flowers don’t stay open long.
helping the process paid off
I also learned from my FB friend David that your squash can begin to grow, even get to 5 or 6 inches, then fall off. David knows alot about pollination, so I’m sure he’s right.
He said this is caused by under fertilization.
That really stinks, but it’s good info to know.
So now sit back, relax, and while you wait for your squash to grow- check out our recipe box for some wonderful ways to enjoy what you’re growing.
How to Grow Squash- the video
Categories: faq's, squash
29 April 2011, by gj
On the left - the beginnings.
Squashes are one of the most commonly grown foods in the home garden.
young summer squash
After all danger of frost is over, simply plant 2 or 3 seeds in a hill, space your hills 1-2 feet apart.
Squash like a very fertile soil, so have at it with the fertilizer.
An old time farmer told me once: “Do you have a pile of cow manure? Then you can grow squash.”
That might be a little over the top, but you get the idea.
squash plants in the garden
Squash, both winter and summer, produce a male and a female flower.
If you see a little fruit, and then it dries up and falls off, it is because it was not pollinated or not sufficiently pollinated.
Here’s info on how you can pollinate your own.
baby spaghetti squash
Other than that, the main problem you may see with squash is mildew.
This can either be Downy Mildew, caused by weather that is too cold and wet in the spring; or Powdery Mildew, which comes when the weather is too hot and dry later in the season.
I have heard, but not tried Neem Oil as a spray to treat the mildew problem.
If you have other suggestions, please comment here to help others and thanks!
Cross Pollination of Winter Squash
How to Grow Squash – The Video
Botanical name: Cucurbita (different varieties)
Yield: Numerous fruit per plant. Summer squash is more prolific than winter types.
Days to maturity: 50 summer, 85-100 winter
Harvest: By size for summer types, after a frost for winter varieties.
Storage: Summer types, dehydrate or pressure can in soups; winter types can be kept in cold storage.
Categories: How to Grow, squash