Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
August, 2000
Regional Report

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Zucchini flowers and fruits are edible.

Zucchini: The Garden Wonder

In my garden, I either have far too much zucchini or none at all. In other words, some years I plant it and some years I don't. When I do plant them, it's wonderful to see how much one plant can produce, especially if it's growing in good soil with plenty of compost and/or aged horse manure. By this time, the zucchinis are piling up in the fridge and nobody wants to look at another one, let alone eat it.

Harvesting Your Zukes

I pick zucchini every other day, cutting them loose with a long sharp knife. It's important to keep up with them, or they will get out of control. I pick them when they're still young, about 5 inches long with the blossom still attached. They taste best that way - tiny zucchinis are undeniably gourmet fare - and the harvest stays manageable ... for a while.

Stuffing the Zukes

When I miss one, it attains a monstrous size overnight and within days becomes what we call an oven stuffer roaster. Those taste good too, stuffed with fresh tomatoes and garlic and onion and maybe a little cheese and some bread crumbs. Meanwhile, wonder of wonders, still more keep coming!

Slowing Down the Zukes

Here are some hints for using up that endless parade of zucchini when family and friends and neighbors alike shudder at the thought of another one. First, the blossoms are edible - so you can just nip those suckers in the bud, literally. You reduce the production of zucchinis by picking the flowers, and they taste great sauteed with olive oil and garlic. Next, remember the secret side benefit to allowing a single squash to grow into a baseball bat: it slows down the plant. Another alternative is to donate extra squash to the local food bank. Call them first though, to see if and when they accept fresh produce since it is perishable and thus needs special handling that they may not be set up to provide.

If all else fails, there is always the compost heap. There it will feed your soil. And then you will be all set to grow more wonderful zucchini again next year. See how that works?

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