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.
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.