Zucchini and Squash I’m Growing in 2022

I have successfully been far to distracted with what is going on behind the scenes here to start any tomatoes from seed. Rare for me, since my brain starts dreaming of all the tomatoes I’ll grow in the summer in the depths of winter in January. Instead, I wanted to grow more zucchini this year, since they are a little more self-sufficient than tomatoes. They are also one of my favourite vegetables, so using a million zucchini isn’t a problem in my world.

Before I get to what I’m growing this year, I figured I would start with my challenges with squash plants over the years. My main problem over the years of trying to grow zucchini here is squirrels and slugs. The squirrels will dig out the seeds I just lovingly planted, or later on, they will pluck off the baby zucchinis. The slugs will either demolish the seedling before it even gets established, or they start eating the zucchini before I get to. The third thing I tend to deal with is Powdery Mildew. But this doesn’t typically set in until late in the season. This is mostly to do with poor airflow and inconsistent watering. I’ll cross the solution to this problem if it crops up later in the year

Last year, I spent a good amount of time trying to make some ideal living arrangements for beetles. Beetles are a great natural predator to slugs. This involved adding some chunks of wood around the flowerbeds. I also am using an old dog bowl with some rocks in it as a source of water for other beneficial insects and any birds that are brave enough to land where there might be a cat hiding near by during the day. These were all ways to encourage lady bugs to take up residence here as my other big problem in the garden is aphids.

As for the squirrel protection. Right now, for freshly planted seeds, I have a stake at each “hill” of zucchini, and then I placed a 1 gallon pot over the stake. As soon as there is decent germination, I’ll pull the pot off, and then the stake will stay, letting me know where the centre of the plant is, and where I can focus the water if we have another heat wave this year. For all the non-squash things I have seeded, which I will add another post about (but figured I would mention it here while I’m talking about squirrel protection) I am using some plant trays that I have saved, and have them flipped upside down, so there is some room under for the seeds to pop up and get established before I take their squirrel shield away.

Climbing/pole/runner beans planted on the trellis and bamboo sticks. Zucchini and Crookneck squash under the pink pots. (I have since cleaned up the extra patio bricks and leaves.)

Ok, now onto the varieties.

First up, the classic:

  • ‘Black Beauty’ Zucchini
    • Days to Maturity – 60
    • West Coast Seeds: “The standard summer squash, introduced in the 1920s. Large bush plants grow semi-upright and open, and are loaded with glossy dark green fruits with firm creamy white flesh and fine flavour. Plants are productive very early, and over a long period. Best eaten when under 20cm (8″ long). Black Beauty zucchini seeds are the best variety for freezing. Black Beauty zucchini is a 20th Century heirloom that won the All American Selections prize back in 1957. It was first introduced to American market growers in the 1920s, and was commercially available as seed from the 1930s on.”
    • I love zucchini so the classic was an obvious choice for me. Especially since I wont be obsessing over tomatoes this year and can focus that energy on my zucchini.

  • Crookneck Squash
    • Days to Maturity – 65
    • MI Gardener: “This variety is one of the oldest squash still being grown. Seeds were brought over from Europe and cultivated in the Americas as early as the 1500s. The namesake comes from the bent neck of the gourd with its rounded bottom. This shape provides good meat with minimal seeds. Pick them small, and they are the best thing for a summer stir-fry or vegetable salad.”
    • Another one I am excited for, so keep your fingers crossed for me that my squirrel deterrent works and these can actually grow. This will be attempt #3 over the years and I REALLY want to eat these.
  • ‘Tromboncino’ Zucchini
    • Days to Maturity – 80
    • West Coast Seeds: “Tromboncino squash seeds produce rambling vines with very long, pale green Italian summer squash. Tromboncino fruits can grow to 2m (6′) long, with a tiny seed cavity just at the blossom end. Flavourful and firm, the seedless texture is a treat in the kitchen. This unusual squash has a mild flavour, but it is great when steamed, stir-fried, or even pickled. Trellis Tromboncino to get straight fruits (they will form hanging down), but the unique shapes of fruits that form on the ground are really fun. Harvest while still tender at 20-45cm (8-18″) long.”
    • I really hope these ones do well. They are scratching my ‘weird’ tomato itch, since I’m not growing anything weird like I usually do.

There we have it. My long winded squash post. Hopefully I’ll have something to show for it all in a couple months. It is June 12 as I am finalizing this post. I planted these May 28 and May 29 and I am still waiting for them to pop up. We have had some cold rainy days, so I’m chalking them not germinating yet, to not enough heat. Hopefully they pop up soon, otherwise, I’m not sure what to do with all the space I’ve set aside for the squash. Maybe even more beans? Or maybe i’ll break down and go to the garden center for some starts, since I REALLY have my heart set on zucchini this summer. I also popped in some Round Zucchini into a pot on the west side of our house yesterday on June 11.


Beans for 2022

I figured I would keep writing about the other seeds I have sown this year, so this time, its Beans.

I did 4 types of climbing/Pole/Runner Beans, and 2 types (so far anyway) of Bush Beans.

If you read my last post about zucchini and squash. I was pretty long winded about my squirrel and slug battle plan, so rather than rehash it out in this post too, I’m just going to link back to the zucchini post. But the TLDR for squirrel protection for the seeds is flipped over plant trays to give the seeds a chance to germinate without the squirrels thinking they won the lottery.

  • ‘Asparagus’ Yard Long Beans
    • Days to Maturity: 95 Days (from indoor starts)
    • West Coast Seeds: “Asparagus Bean seeds are also known as yard long beans. This attractive plant is botanically different from regular pole beans and bears the tongue-twisting Latin name Vigna unguiculata sesquipidalis. At first this plant appears to grow as a bush, but when summer heat comes along, it bursts into vertical growth with twisting vines, and purple flowers, followed by fast-growing pods that are meant to be harvested at 60-65cm (24-26”) in length. Even at that amazing size, the beans are just over 1cm (½”) thick, tender, and tasty. These beans feature prominently in Asian cuisines, and are most productive in hot weather.”
    • These might not do great here, depending on what kind of summer we have, just due to the days to maturity, and that I only planted directly outside. But It was worth a shot to me. I only planted 4 of the bamboo stakes with these in the hottest area of that bed, so here’s hoping we get some super long beans from them.
  • ‘Succotash’ Beans
    • Days to Maturity: Not listed
    • Baker Creek: “A rare, ancient bean from the Narragansett Indian tribe of Rhode Island. This uniquely shaped, dime-sized bean closely resembles a kernel of corn. This variety was used for succotash–the iconic indigenous northeastern dish of corn and beans that historians believe was served at the first Thanksgiving. This bean is ideal for the north, particularly on the coast.”
    • In the winter of 2020 I was super excited to grow these, and then last spring I was a million times too busy with work and trying to sleep and deal with background life stuff that the farthest thing from my mind was planting beans. So this year I HAD to put these in the ground.
  • ‘Painted Lady’ Runner Beans
    • Days to Maturity: Not Listed
    • Baker Creek (This is not listed on their website anymore):
    • I did grow these in 2020, but battled the squirrels, and my energy levels after working all day at a busy garden centre, so the harvest was little to none.
  • ‘Slippery Silks’ Pole Beans
    • Days to Maturity: Not Listed
    • Baker Creek: “We love this splendid Honduran heirloom dry bean for its silky soft, creamy texture and top-notch flavor. Famous for its quick cooking time and ability to be reheated without losing its superior texture, this variety is traditionally cooked over a wood fire, but is also happy on the stovetop!”
    • Just like the Succotash beans above, in the winter of 2020 I was super excited to grow these, and then last spring I was a million times too busy with work and trying to sleep and deal with background life stuff that the farthest thing from my mind was planting beans. So this year I HAD to put these in the ground.

Bush Beans:

  • ‘Ferrari’ Bush Beans
    • Days to Maturity: 55 days
    • West Coast Seeds: “Ferrari is considered a French filet type bean and has a wonderful flavour. The slim, stringless, round pods develop early on compact plants, and grow to 13cm (5”). This variety has good potential for early starting under cloche protection, and is compact enough for container growing. Ferrari bush bean seeds are resistant to Anthracnose and BCMV, and tolerant to Cucumber Mosaic Virus.”
    • Classic Green Beans are always something I want to grow. I love green beans almost as much as zucchini.
  • ‘Royal Burgundy’ Bush Beans
    • Days to Maturity: 55 Days
    • McKenzie Seeds: “This unusual dark purple podded bean produces an abundant yield of tender and delicious stringless beans. Pods turn dark green when cooked. Excellent fresh or frozen. Best flavour when picked about 10cm (4″) long. Make successive plantings every 2 weeks for a continuous supply. Plant directly in the garden after lost frost.”
    • These have been one of my favourite beans to grow over the years. They have always done well, whether I neglect them or not.

Just before I make this post live, I also popped in some Yellow Wax Bush Beans into a pot, and some Tendergreen Bush Beans where I had terrible luck with my Siberian Garlic. I don’t want to go into the details of those varieties because otherwise this post will never go live.

May 2022

This post is going to pretty photo heavy at the end. I’ll try to add captions to the photos to say what they are, but there are so many beautiful things that it is easier to just let the photos speak for themselves.

What I’ve seeded:

  • 3 different types of Zucchini/Squash
  • Pole/Climbing and Bush Beans
  • Purple Podded Peas (I might have actually sowed these in the end of April, but I don’t really remember)
  • 4 different types of Beets
  • 2 different types of Lettuce
  • Easter Egg Blend Radishes
  • 2 different types of carrots (but I have plans to add a few more pots of different types)
  • 20-ish French Shallots (sets and not seed, but still worth mentioning. They aren’t pretty yet, so there isn’t much hope in getting photos of them)
  • a handful of random “savory” onion sets. I wasn’t the best caretaker of them over the last 2-ish months for these, so they really dried up. I planted what still felt viable, but most of them were totally desiccated.

The Potatoes that I planted at the end of April/beginning of May are all starting to poke through the soil.

All my grape plants survived winter, apart from my cuttings that I took later in the year. I didn’t overwinter them very well, so it’s not a huge loss. I am hoping to get more cuttings this year to propagate them. They haven’t fully leafed out yet, but the buds are all swollen and some in the warmer areas have more open leaves than the rest. This is beneficial for them since we still have a few cold days here and there. They are all still quite young so I don’t expect to get any grapes yet. Maybe a few on the oldest plant I have that has been planted in the ground, but I’m not holding my breath.

My baby apple trees are still too young and haven’t flowered yet. My plan is to get them all planted out at my Dad’s house this spring, but that will be dependent on my shoveling ability. I have one apple left here in a pot (‘Winter Cheeks’), that I bought last year. It will have priority on planting out in the orchard whenever I can get out there. Hopefully it is getting pollinated here in the city, as it is covered in flowers right now.

I wrote about how my haskaps weren’t flowering at the same time, but they have had a little bit of overlap in blooms, so I might be able to have a few berries from them. I still intend to do some cuttings from both of these plants to plant out at my dad’s, and some cuttings from the haskaps there to add to the haskaps here.

My raspberries are all doing well. I can’t wait for the berries later this summer. I think I will appreciate them more this year than any year before.

My rescued Norland apple has almost fully leafed out as well. I need to train a few more of the branches for the eccentric espalier I am attempting to do with it. I don’t expect it to flower, as it is still recovering from so much trauma, so I want it to focus its energy on growing some decent roots.

The double flowering plum has beautiful leaves this year, but it didn’t flower at all. It is another rescue plant, and it struggled in the heat least year, so I’m happy it survived and looks as healthy as it does. I’m toying with the idea of trying to train it into more of a tree shape rather than letting it be a shrub form. This would let more light get to the bed below.

The Nanking Cherry is getting giant, and I am trying to train it so it doesn’t completely take over the bed it is in.

My American Highbush cranberry is also doing well. I think it will have a ton of blooms, but my other ‘Wentworth’ American Highbush Cranberry is struggling a little bit. While it is still alive, it only has leaf buds at the moment, while the other is almost fully leafed out and looks like it will have bloom clusters on every branch. Because of this difference I don’t know if there will be crossover in their bloom times (if the second one even blooms at all) in order to get berries. I don’t suspect there are any other viburnums in the area that the bees and other pollinators would visit.

Currant flowers
Labrador violets survived!
Strawberry flowers. I think this one is a Berries Galore (white) the grassy foliage across it is a crocus
Nanking Cherry flowers (see the dust-like stuff on the leaves? That is tree pollen that is blowing around and coating everything right now)
Squirrel defences for newly planted seeds
‘Winter Cheeks’ Apple blooms
Got all the baby trees organized.
My Lychnis survived!
Haskap flowers
Snakes Head fritillaria (checkered lily)
Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)
A daffodil finally came up!

Battling Delphinium Worms

I don’t think I have written about my Delphinium worm battle much over the years, apart from an old post in 2017. Which was from before I knew a much easier way to win the battle against these pests.

Rather than meticulously picking off the caterpillars before they completely damage the leaves of my delphiniums, as I did in 2017, now, as soon as I see leaves starting to curl up and fill up with tiny caterpillars and their large amount of poop (if you want to sound more professional or mature, you can call this “frass”), you chop the entire plant back.

Unless your plant is super young, there will be enough energy in the roots for it to grow new leaves… and flowers. By completely removing the leaves/food source for the caterpillars, they have no food source and should die out before the plant sends up it’s new growth.

It seems counter intuitive to completely cut back your plants beautiful new growth, but this has been the best way to still enjoy my delphiniums. Plus, no need to meticulously inspect your plants and squish the bugs as soon as you see them. AND your plant doesn’t have to struggle trying to survive this onslaught.

When I get my delphiniums cleaned up in the fall, I have less of a problem the following Spring, as there is no where for the bugs to overwinter. But last fall was a rough time and the very last thing on my mind was delphinium worms.

So while yes, it is rough to fully cut back brand new spring growth that we have waited ALL winter to see, this really is the best way I have found to win the battle against the delphinium worms, AND still enjoy my delphiniums. They are one of my favourite flowers. I won’t ever completely be free of the delphinium worms because my yard is not a closed system. Other people have delphiums and likely delphinium worms, so the little buggers will always have a place to overwinter.

Hecker Strawberries

Earlier this year, I got really excited about strawberries. Don’t get me wrong, I still am excited about strawberries, but I am also distracted with real life things. I bought a pack of 10 of these Hecker Strawberry crowns, but it was super early, and I ended up bringing spider mites home with them from the greenhouse, so battling those little assholes critters took my inventory down to 2 crowns that survived the battle. Now they are outside, and battling the weather, so I’m hoping they recover once real spring weather shows up here in the next week or two. All of that to say that earlier in the year, I did a deep dive on learning about the different strawberries I was planning on adding to the garden this year (but also on the varieties I already have planted outside from previous years). So here is what I was able to find on “Hecker”

  • Fragaria x ananassa ‘Hecker’
  • Everbearing Day Neutral
  • Hardy plants that produce large, bright red fruit all summer long, from June to September (depending on your area).
  • Shows good disease resistance
  • Bred and tested as Cal. 69.141-101 in the 1970’s by UC Davis in California
  • This strawberry’s patent has expired, but was originally patented by UC Berkeley in California in 1978. Patent name was F. ‘CN7’

  • I was able to find a PDF from 1980 detailing the 6 new strawberries that were released that year from the breeding program at UC Davis, headed by Royce Bringhurst (Professor of Pomology at UC Davis) and Victor Voth (Pomologist at the Experiment Station, Santa Ana). The following paragraph from the article is the nerdy things I love to find out about different varieties:
    • “All three new day-neutrals are third backcross generation derivatives from a male Fragaria virginiana glauca plant collected at the head of the Big Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch mountains near Salt Lake City, Utah. The day-neutral trait came from the wild strawberry. All were selected in 1971-72 at the U.C. Wolfskill Experimental Orchards near Winters”
    • In this article, on page 3, there is also a family tree for each of the new strawberries in case you wanted to deep dive into the family tree like I have.
  • Something I find quite interesting, is even though this strawberry was bred in California, just a handful of years later, it was in a test at the University of Saskatchewan evaluating the use of row covers for overwintering strawberries in our challenging prairie conditions. They concluded that both varieties (Hecker and Bounty) tested in the study were viable for commercial production in Saskatchewan. Not too shabby for a plant bred in warm and sunny California.

Now, for the other strawberries that I have, I was not able to find nearly a quarter of the same type of information. This makes me a little sad, because so much time (years, decades even), effort, and work goes into breeding and producing these plants; it would be nice if it was easy to acknowledge the people who made these varieties. It also helps to understand the best situation for the plants so you are able to replicate it as closely as you can to be as successful as possible.

Keep your fingers crossed that my two surviving crowns keep on their survival streak so I can let ya’ll know how they produce. I do think I will have to wait til next year to be able to either add more of these, or even just taste the berries. I will probably just let these 2 grow as best as they can with zero expectations, but lots of hope.

Sorry about the lack of photos for this post. My 2 remaining crowns are far too sad to document.