Four Summer Squash for Good Eating!
If you've been following me for a while you may remember that my hubby is a kiwi, not the fruit, the nationality! We often spend some time during the California winter down under in New Zealand.That is where we presently are, enjoying the NZ summer sun, and so far, lots of warm rain.
The lush greenery stands in stark contrast to our CA summers and we enjoy the reprieve from dust and mud. Though paradise is never perfect; we are instead plagued by hordes of biting insects called sandflies.
I've been busy in my in-laws summer garden, which after just finishing our CA summer garden has felt a little strange at times. We've been planting tomatoes, corn, melons, cucumbers and lots of summer squash.
This got me thinking about summer squash and reflecting on the varieties we offer. Our seed collection is the result of over 15 years work and if varieties aren't up to snuff you won't see them in our catalog. Here are my brief thoughts on each of these varieties and why we carry them.
Lebanese Summer Squash- These have been out of stock for a couple of years and I'm really pleased to have them back. Simply put, we grow these because they are really good! The flavor and texture stand up to cooking and don't turn to mush. The seedlings always display vigor and the plants maintain their bushy shape in the garden. They are a Lebanese heirloom variety and used to make Kousa, stuffed squash.
Dark Star Zucchinni- Dark Star will be a northern CA heirloom someday. It was bred in the last 20 years by Bill Reynolds with support from the Organic Seed Alliance in Humboldt County. These are known for uniform dark green fruits on bushy plants with an open habit and no spines making for ease of harvest. We have been growing these for at least 10 years and take the time to select for the best plants each year.
Golden Zucchini- The vigor of this variety stands out each time we grow them. If you are looking for a fast crop that will produce all season this is the summer squash for you. The fruits are best eaten young. We love them simply steamed. This is a selection bred by Swiss Seed company Sativa Rheinau.
Tromboncino- These are my mom's favorite summer squash variety and are a staple in her garden. She loves to sautee the young tender fruits in her breakfast egg scramble. Delish! The cool thing about Trombonicino is that you can eat them at any stage. If you let them go, they can be harvested in the fall and eaten as a winter squash and are a bit like a second cousin to butternut. Photo below!
Direct Seed or Transplant??
With squash the choice comes down to personal preference. There are pros and cons to both. Here are my considerations:
1. If your garden is fairly weed free and you have irrigation in place then direct sowing is great because the roots can head down and won't be disturbed. This is the ideal.
2. If your garden still needs prep, but you want a headstart, then plant them in trays with 2-4 inch cells. I only start my squash plants about 2-3 weeks before I plan to plant them. DO NOT start them 6-8 weeks ahead of time like you would tomatoes. They just don't need that much of a head start and are likely to become stunted.
3. If you don't have very much seed then starting in trays often results in better germination because you can control the water, weeds and temps. Just watch out for mice in the green house! They love to dig up squash seeds and eat them.
So, while you all dream of your summer garden...i'll get back to mine:) Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year and all the best for 2024!