In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
July, 2001
Regional Report

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'Gold Rush' yellow zucchini produces delicious squash and edible flowers.

It's Summer Squash Season

My summer squash are coming in abundantly (why am I not surprised?) and I've long past feeling guilty about picking them when they're only 4 to 5 inches long. When they're small like this, I think they taste best. I still shred the occasional monster zucchini that gets away from me for the freezer. I also swear to not load down visitors with bags of huge zucchini. I can't stand the thought of roadsides all over the country being lined with rotting zucchinis as friends toss them out the window on their way home.

Eating the Bounty

In all my years growing vegetables I still get a thrill when I see the first shining 'Gold Rush' zucchini peeking out from under gigantic, silver-streaked leaves. My favorite way to eat zucchini, crookneck, scallopini, and patty pan squash is fried in butter,. Since that's off my diet now, I think they still taste great roasted in the oven and doused with olive oil and salt.

Sizing Up Squash

There are countless types of summer squash available including some multi-purpose ones that can be harvested young as summer squash or left to mature into winter-keeping squash. If you've plenty of vertical room, vining summer squash varieties do quite well growing up on sturdy trellises, although it may take a little assistance getting them to climb at first. They can even make an attractive screen when grown on a trellis.

In my garden, I grow bush types to conserve space for other vegetables. Luckily, there are quite a few varieties available for gardens with space restrictions like mine. You can even grow some bush types in a barrel on a patio or apartment balcony.

Growing Squash

Summer squash grow abundantly in almost any garden soil. I've had good luck getting early yields by starting seeds in a cold frame. I set out plants as soon as the weather and soil begin to warm. I also mulch the plants heavily since they tend to be fairly shallow rooted and dry out quickly. Early strong growth minimizes problems with vine borers, squash bugs, and cucumber beetles, which become more a problem later in the season.

A Second Generation of Squash

I also plant a second generation of squash in July so if vine borers do end up destroying my first crop of plants, I have new ones to take their place. With any luck, I'll be up to my ears in summer squash for the entire summer.

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