Sunday, July 09, 2006

Summer Squash Sensation

Summer squash comes in many popular varieties, the most common being -

Zucchini: Probably the most familiar to home gardeners (and their neighbors).

Crookneck: Traditional yellow squash with slender, bent necks.

Straight-neck: Cylindrical yellow squash, typically smoother and more uniform than crooknecks, with a straighter neck.

Patty pan: Also known as scalloped squash because of the scalloped edges, these squash are round and flat.

Each type has different textures, flavors and growing habits. Experiment to find the one just right for you.

Squash Blossoms

Summer squash produce both male and female blossoms with only the female blossoms producing fruit.

Squash blossoms are edible flowers, and are quite a delicacy. Both summer and winter squash blossoms can be battered and fired in a little oil for wonderful taste sensation.

The male blossoms are best for harvesting unless your goal is to reduce production, or you can harvest the small fruit with the blossom still attached.

Growing Tips

Summer squash have roots that don't like to be disturbed. You could sprout your seeds in a peat pot that you can then bury pot and all. Make sure all of the pot is buried under the soil or cut the top portion of the pot off. If a portion of the pot is left to stick up into the air it will act as a wick and suck the moisture right out of the soil right where your roots are.
Squash like to have the soil evenly moist and with their shallow root system the will do well with a quality organic mulch.

Because squash grow so quickly and prolifically, it's easy to let the fruit get oversized. If this happens, unless you plan on stuffing and baking it, then throw it on the mulch pile. The worms will thank you. They should be harvested when small and tender for best quality. Most elongated varieties are picked when they are 2 inches or less in diameter and 6 to 8 inches long. Patty Pan types are harvested when they are 3 to 4 inches in diameter. Slightly larger fruit may be salvaged by hollowing out and using them for stuffing. These larger fruits may also be grated for baking in breads and other items. Check your plants every 1 to 2 days for perfect sized fruit.

For squash blossom recipes click here.

Happy gardening, reward yourself.


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