Sick of zucchini overload? Plant one of these 5 squash varieties
Summer squash has been a much-loved garden crop for generations. The old joke about taking your extra baseball bat-sized zucchini, dropping them on the neighbor's porch, and then ringing the bell and making a run for it is as relevant today as it was 40 years ago.
Almost every gardener I know has lamented having too many zucchini to handle at one time or another. (There's only so much zucchini parmesan a person can eat, after all!)
So, instead of planting a boat-load of zucchini, why not grow a few different types of summer squash instead? There are dozens of summer squash varieties that perform beautifully in home gardens.
And, it's not too late to plant a few of them for this season.
Summer squash seeds can be planted as late as June 15 here in Pennsylvania and still produce a good crop before fall frosts arrive. Adding a late-season planting of summer squash also helps manage plant decline due to squash vine borers and squash bugs. Stagger your planting instead of putting all your summer squash in on the same day.
Head to your local garden center and pick up some seeds or plants of the following summer squash varieties. They'll offer a slightly different texture and flavor than zucchini do. And it's fun to step beyond zucchini parmesan with these beauties. I love stuffing them with a cooked and seasoned meat and rice mixture, topping them with cheese, and then popping them in the oven until they're soft.
Or, try coating slices of these summer squashes with olive oil and a dash of salt and dried oregano, and then put them on the grill for a few minutes. No matter which of these summer squash varieties you grow, you won't find yourself dropping extras on the neighbor's porch!
“Y-Star” squash: Known as yellow patty-pan squash, these UFO-like squash are as cool looking as they are tasty. I'm especially fond of this particular variety due to its prolific production and the circle of light green found on its bottom. The scalloped edges and flattened shape of patty-pan summer squash are definitely novel, but their nutty flavor and rich texture are excellent.
“Summer Ball” squash: A round summer squash that's perfect for stuffing, “Summer Ball” has yellow skin and firm flesh. Harvest these little guys when they're about 3 inches across and the plant will keep producing more fruits for months on end. This is a great plant for kids to grow, too.
“Flamingo” squash: OK, so this one isn't that different from a regular green zucchini, except for the raised white stripes on its rind. A high-yielding Costata -ype squash, “Flamingo” is bushy and fairly compact, making it a good choice for tight plantings. Pick the fruits when they're about 8 inches long for the best flavor and continued production.
“Magda” squash: This little guy is buttery and so very yummy. The fruits are stocky and pale green with white speckles. If you pickle zucchini, this is the variety for you. The plants are very prolific and the plants produce in just 48 days from seed.
“Warty Yellow Crookneck” squash: While yellow summer squash are almost as common as green zucchini, this old-fashioned variety adds an extra dimension of interest. The rind is covered in large, warty bumps. It may not be the most attractive trait in a summer squash, but the warts sure do make it interesting to look at on the plate! Pick the fruit when it's just a few inches long and enjoy the sweet flavor of this bumpy selection. It's seriously tasty.... warts and all.
Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio with Doug Oster. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden,” “Good Bug, Bad Bug,” and her newest title, “Container Gardening Complete.” Her website is jessicawalliser.com. Send your gardening or landscaping questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or The Good Earth, 622 Cabin Hill Drive, Greensburg, PA 15601.