It’s late summer, and even though I’ve never been to your garden, I can predict this: it's full of zucchini.
If there’s one thing we can bond over as northern gardeners, it’s our ability to grow zucchini and summer squash in profusion. Every year it’s the same … we plant those seeds, then wait for what seems like an interminable amount of time. Then the seeds sprout … slowly, haphazardly. Then they lazily stretch into good-sized plants. Finally, one day, the first baby squash appears, perhaps an inch long, and we cheer. At last!
Three days later, we have zucchini and summer squash coming out our ears and for a while we thrive in the abundance. Zucchini bread! Summer squash soup! Zucchini lasagna. Roasted yellow squash. Zucchini bread again. Zucchini lasagna again. And again. And again.
By now we’re contacting family and friends. “Hey, can you use any zucchini? How about sixteen yellow summer squash?”
When our friends and family stop answering text messages, we start contacting mere acquaintances. “Hey, I stood behind you in the post office the other day, and you looked like the kind of human who eats food. Could I interest you in some zucchini?”
When all else fails, we surreptitiously leave bags of zucchini and summer squash on friends’ porches or stashed in the back of their pick-up trucks. “Hey, by the way,” we’ll text them later, “I ‘squashed’ your truck. Hope you don’t mind!”
Eventually, we eat, preserve, share, or give away all that zucchini … and eventually autumn arrives, giving us freedom from zucchini until next summer rolls around.
And then we gleefully get out the seed catalogs to buy more seed so we can do it all again.
If you’re at that point in the summer squash cycle, let me tell you what’s overflowing in my garden right now:
- Safari—How have I never grown this before? I think Safari zucchini is one of the most beautiful zucchini varieties I’ve ever encountered. The stripes are just stunning, and the plants have been impressively productive. Best of all, Safari is delicious, and has a more interesting flavor than some of the other varieties I’ve tried. I’m definitely a fan.
- Cube of Butter—This is a pale yellow squash and I always grow it because it produces like crazy, it’s beautiful and uniform, and has a mild, pleasant flavor. If I could only grow one variety, this would probably be it, but it’s hard to say because how can you grow just one?
- Fordhook—This zucchini is an All-America Selections winner and I could immediately see why. These are gorgeous, prolific, and they have a nice texture that I’m finding quite tasty in many dishes.
- Golden Egg—I couldn’t resist this summer squash when I saw it in the catalog. Golden Egg is aptly named; it’s a deep golden yellow and distinctively egg shaped. It’s produced well in the garden this summer and has excellent flavor. I love the fact that Golden Egg is so delightfully unique and is just plain fun to grow. Bonus for northern gardeners, it’s quick to mature.
Striped, pale yellow, deep green, golden egg-shaped—this is a splendid quartet of garden treasures and I hope they overflow in your garden next summer!
Samantha Johnson is the author of several books, including Garden DIY (CompanionHouse Books, 2020). She lives on a former dairy farm in northern Wisconsin with a Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Peaches and writes frequently about pets, gardening, and farm life. Visit her online portfolio at http://samanthajohnson.contently.com.
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