The zucchini are producing like crazy. I was a little worried in the beginning of the season. I have three plants of Cash Flow and three of a new variety, Northern States. The plants looked good and there were blossoms but the fruit wasn’t growing well. A closer inspection showed that the plants were producing plenty of female flowers (flowers with a small squash at the base) but there weren’t many male flowers (flowers born on a stalk called a peduncle). I also wondered if I had a lack of pollinators in the garden.
Fortunately everything has now come into balance and the Cash Flow plants are doing great – I’ve been really impressed with this variety. The Northern States is another story. They haven’t been producing well at all. I’m not sure why but this happens when you experiment with new varieties. Sometimes the new plant is great and sometimes it isn’t. I’m sure there are gardens were Northern States might be a great zucchini but in my garden, it one I won’t be growing again. I’ll stick with Cash Flow.
Recently I was looking at a site from the University of Illinois about growing vegetables. In the section on summer squash, they stated that most people let summer squash get too big before harvesting it. I think they’re right – this is one of the few vegetables where you harvest the immature fruit and don’t want them to get full-sized.
But a lot of people let them get really big! I’ve driven by roadside stands selling zucchini the size of a man’s forearm. I’ve heard of gardeners boasting about their two foot long zucchini. I’ll admit it’s impressive to bring something that size out of the garden but I don’t know what I’d do with a zucchini that size.
For me, when it comes to zucchini, smaller is better. I check the plants every few days – these squash grow fast. I harvest zucchini when it’s only 4-8″ long. I’ve found that smaller squash taste better, they have a lot less water in their tissue and I can usually keep up with all of the squash that I harvest if they’re little.
But no matter how careful I am at picking the zucchini, a few of them always get away from me and get bigger than I like. Rather than trying to find some culinary use for these large squash, I cut them into pieces and add them to the compost bin. That’s the best use I can think of for them!