The past two years I’ve posted articles titled “Too Much Zucchini?” and “Too Much Zucchini 2.0.” It’s time for a couple more recipes calling for zucchini, something most gardeners have in abundance at this time of year. As I’ve said before, you may have too many zucchinis, but you can never have too many zucchini recipes!
One of our daughters lives north of Seattle, where plants like to grow. She just called, all excited to tell me about her veggie garden. It seems that last year she planted six zucchini seeds, and none of them survived. She was a novice gardener and planted the seeds too deeply. Then, the local rabbit population gnawed off the two sprouts that managed to reach daylight.
This year, a bit wiser, she decided to try again. There were a dozen seeds left in the packet. Assuming that she would get a similar germination rate as the previous summer—after all, these were old seeds, right?—she went ahead and planted all twelve seeds. Yes, twelve. Even better, she planted them six inches apart along the 4-foot wide end of her raised bed!
You guessed it. Ten of the twelve seeds sprouted and rapidly grew into vigorous, prolific squash plants. Did I mention that she only has a small, 4 x 8 foot raised bed? You can see her monster zucchini plants in these photos. (That is one huge zucchini leaf, and her hand for comparison!)
- Are you growing zucchini in your garden?
- Are your plants… prolific?
- Do your neighbors hide when they see you coming?
- Do you sneak over at midnight to leave it on their porch?
You might be showing signs of zucchini overabundance! Luckily for you, I have some suggestions for dealing with an onslaught of squash. (And if you don’t have too many zucchinis, check out my post on squash pollination.)
If you’re going to use up zucchini, you have to prepare it in appetizing ways. No one wants to stare at a mess of soggy, overcooked squash day after day after day. For best results, vary your recipes enough that no one notices the main ingredient stays the same. Here are some suggestions to get you started…
The fun thing about growing any kind of summer squash is that no matter which variety you choose, you’re likely to be blessed with a bumper crop. Not only that, but zucchini tastes a lot like patty pan which tastes a lot like crookneck which tastes a lot like the new globular introductions. It’s hard to go wrong.
However, there are subtle differences. I’ve trialed a number of varieties. Surprisingly, some varieties succumbed to a heat wave, hail storm, or torrential downpour, while others persevered. Others took too long to produce a crop. I find the days to harvest given in the catalogs have little in common with what actually happens in my garden, probably because our nights are so cool.
The huge zucchini leaf looked as if it had been dusted with flour. The man holding it was looking at me expectantly, waiting for my diagnosis. I was volunteering at our county’s Master Gardener helpdesk, providing free gardening advice to the general public. Sometimes we get stumped, but this time I immediately knew exactly what the problem was.
“Your zucchini plants have powdery mildew,” I told the man. “It’s pretty common around here, especially this late in the season.”
Zucchini and its relatives have large lobed leaves, blotched with white, supported by thick prickly stems. Big yellow flowers produce squash in an amazing variety of colors and shapes. Of course they’re edible—but they’re eye-catching as well. Just make sure you leave plenty of room. “Bush” squash plants grow four feet wide and two feet high.
It’s time to learn about sex. Oh, you think you already know all about that? OK, but how much do you know about making baby zucchinis?
Perhaps your zucchini (or other squash) plants are producing plenty of flowers, but no squash. Or, maybe they start to grow little squashes but then the babies turn yellow to brown, get all wrinkled, and fall off. What’s wrong? It’s highly likely the problem involves zucchini sex.
All squash plants (and related crops such as cucumbers) produce two kinds of flowers, male and female. Here’s how to tell them apart: