September 19, 1997
Lately I've been forced to admit that summer is relentlessly marching towards fall. The signs are everywhere! I feel the undeniable nip in the evening air. Big spiders are occasionally showing up in the house. Every evening, I observe large flocks of Canada geese flying south. And, once again, gardeners are trying to pawn off huge zucchini (I believe you British types call them marrows) on their neighbors.
I'm sorry to break it to you this way, but: It takes no skill to grow a giant zucchini. Give it up, folks; no one wants them! It's hard to escape the growing season without at least one of these monsters popping up. When fresh, they are great tools for self defense; but if you leave them in your pocket or purse for too long, you'll have a smelly mess.
The plants themselves tend to be very forgiving. They like a fertile soil, with plenty of water; but summer squash seem to produce under much less than ideal conditions. One of our own editors, Debra Teachout-Teashon, came up with the idea of growing her zucchini in a small container. The limited root room keeps the plant small, which slows production down (somewhat). Summer squash tend to be described as heavy feeders, but I've been growing mine without added fertilizer the past few years; they don't seem to have noticed! So apparently a winter crop of clover provides enough nutrition for them.
Indeed, the only thing summer squash seem to require is warmth. Warm soil in which to germinate (70F-80F is best, but they will germinate in 60F soils), and warm days in which to grow. If summer squash are started too early, when days don't get above 65F, the plants tend to sit and pout. If given the chance they will perk up when the weather improves; but all sorts of pests and diseases can hit them during cool weather.
All summer squash are best picked when very small. Patty Pan types are best at about 3 inches in diameter, while crookneck and zucchini shouldn't be more than 6-8 inches long. Some folks enjoy them at an even earlier stage. They pick the squash while the blossom is still fresh, dip it in cornmeal batter, and fry it.
So, let's say your name isn't Martha Stewart, and you are clueless regarding what to do with all those giant zukes? Here are some ideas.
Hold a zucchini festival. These Oregonians have found creative ways to put their oversize gourds to work. It's also obvious they are deeply disturbed individuals..
You can make Stuffed Monster Zucchini.
This Italian zucchini page might inspire you. But remember, the small ones are much better for cooking, even if you're just baking zucchini bread!
Follow the lead of the Pumpkin Carvers. Use your zuke as a nose for your Atlantic Giant carving; or, even better, carve the zucchini itself!
If you are TRULY convinced that your zucchini is larger than anyone else's, display it at a local fair! They are everywhere this time of year; for example, the Puyallup Fair is going full bore about five miles from where I live. Be forewarned though: The competition is stiff!
WHAT? You say you hate zucchini? Well then, here is the home page for you!
Oh, by the way: I have extras, if you'd like some!
All contents © Travis Saling
This page was last updated November 18, 2013