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News from the Good Food Project

SQUASH---The prolific producer

There is no doubt about it--summer squash is a prolific producer. In the summer time, folks lock their car doors, not to prevent theft but to keep gardeners from throwing their excess zucchini into the back seat. We avoid tiring of zucchini by growing a wide range of the tastiest summer squash varieties and harvesting them at their peak. By planting several succession crops, watering the root zone and smothering weeds with a cover crop, we can reap a steady harvest from healthy plants over a long season.

It is best to begin succession planting when the soil warms. Plant half your summer quash when the ground has thoroughly warmed up after the last frost. The soil temperature needs to be 65 degrees or higher for good germination. About a month after your first planting, do a second sowing.

Branch out from only growing zucchini! Growing summer squash is an easy and productive way to incorporate a variety of shapes, colors and sizes into your garden as well as your kitchen. Chose from pattypan, tromboncino and other yellow squash varieties to fit your space and taste. Squash is among the most productive vegetables in a summer garden.

Yellow squash are buttery yellow and elongated and some have crooked necks. Overripe fruits turn into warted gourds. Pattypan squash are an old type of summer squash that produce fruits shaped like plump flying saucers. They can been dark green to bright yellow to white. They are best when harvested at 2 to 4 inches. Tromboncino produce large, curvaceous fruits with light green skins. These squash grow best on a trellis and can send out vines 20 feet long. They look like French horns. They can be harvested when 8 to 18". When they are young and green, they taste much like the zucchini, and when they appear to be overgrown they taste much like winter squash.

Zucchini squash produce large crops of club-shaped fruits with skins in various shades of green. Some zucchini are even striped or bright yellow. Key words for harvesting zucchini are early and often. They can grow 1-2 inches a day. So anytime is good. When they become 6 to 7" it is prime time. It is always best to not let zucchini become overgrown. Squash grow rapidly and need to be checked daily when they start producing. Summer squash that is too large becomes bland, but is still suitable for zucchini bread. Squash flowers make a tasty treat when fried with a light batter.

Whether you prefer it steamed, sautéed, baked or in bread, squash is one of Mother Nature's super foods.

#squas #zucchini

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