Friday, June 15, 2012

How to get rid of your extra summer squash

1) Carefully place a dozen or more zucchini in a large, sturdy black plastic trash bag, then add a couple layers of unwanted clothing. Drive to nearest Goodwill or Salvation Army, hand over bag to nearest volunteer. Politely refuse any offered receipt. Leave quickly.

2) Look for out of the way places which have signs posted, "Clean Fill Wanted."

3) Reserve 1/2 of the space in large, upright freezer, gather all available plastic containers & freezer bags. Drink a vat of your favorite caffinated beverage, in preparation for staying up round the clock to puree large quantities of zucchini. This can then be packaged neatly and artistically labeled: "For Zucchini Nut Bread Recipe." These packages can be freely given, along with copies of recipe, to anyone on your Christmas list. [Ed. note: I solemnly promise that I will eventually post this recipe.]

4) Under light of full moon, either stark naked or wearing full army camouflage, carrying a machete or any garden implement, run amuck in your zucchini patch, cutting and slashing. Be sure to thank mother nature for her bounty before and after this cathartic experience.

5) Buy a large roll of freezer paper--the kind that sub shops use to, you know, wrap up their subs & other sandwiches. Then proceed to wrap each zucchini which has managed to grow to a foot or more in length. Next time your child has a fundraiser, send him or her out supplied with these phoney subs. Tell child to drop them off with neighbors or relatives and leave quickly. It's advisable that a responsible adult hover nearby in a get-away car.

Zucchini Appetizer

4 eggs, slightly beaten

½ cup chopped onions

1 garlic clove, chopped fine

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

½ cup Romano cheese

1 T chopped parsley

1 T chopped basil

1 cup Bisquick

4 cups Zucchini (if large, older squash, peel most of shell; can be chopped or sliced)

½ cup oil

Mix or lightly stir together all ingredients. Bake @350 degrees for 30 minutes or until light brown on top. A large round pizza pan works well.

Rosemary Zucchini
Very nice over rice or pasta.

1 tomato, peeled & chopped

1 T finely chopped onion

2 tsp finely chopped rosemary

salt & pepper to taste

2 T vegetable oil

Thinly slice the zucchini & place in saucepan with all other ingredients. Cover & simmer gently until soft, stirring frequently at first to avoid sticking.

Serves 4. Approx. cooking time: 10 minutes.

Garden tips for growing & Harvesting Zucchini & other Summer Squash

From seed: we're zone 6 here in this part of Pennsylvania, so seeds for summer squash can be started indoors in late April, about 6 weeks before last frost. Try 2 seeds per pot, 1/2" deep; keep pots in a warm, sunny spot. After they sprout (about a week later), snip off the weaker of the 2 seedlings to ensure the healthier one will then develop fully.

Transplanting: whether these are your own seedlings or those from a nursery, be sure ground has warmed and all danger of frost is past. Late May or early June will be soon enough to give plenty of growing time. Don't forget that squash plants need a fair amount of space to spread. Most seed packets suggest creating a hill, but I just provide a small, raised mound, approximately 6" higher than the surrounding area, allowing for good drainage and for vines to trail downwards a bit. You can usually place 2 healthy plants together. Be sure the soil is well prepared; try working in a shovel or two of compost. You might want to provide some additional sweetness by adding enough lime to maintain a 6.5 to 7.0 pH; ideally, a 5-10-5 fertilizer mix should be worked into soil also.

Be sure to water thoroughly when you transplant! To avoid infestation of pests such as the striped cucumber beetle or the spotted cucumber beetle, not to mention the obnoxious squash borer, here are a couple of tips:

Companion Planting: Calendula (pot marigold), Marigold, Tansy

Choose disease resistant seeds and plants!

Floating row covers: frankly, much as this is good advice to protect your young plants from cucumber beetles, I must admit I have yet to try it! Maybe this year . . .? Do take note that if you do use floating row covers for protection, you must be sure to remove them once flowers appear in order to allow for pollination.

Harvesting: connoisseurs know that the French call diminutive squash courgettes, and the Italians call them zuchette. Whatever you prefer to call them, be assured that if you harvest early, you will be able to harvest often, and will surely appreciate the delicate flavor of baby squash. Herein lies the advantage of growing your own, because they are so fragile at this small size, they are not likely to be found in grocery stores. Of course, I find that the more hefty size are in some ways more suitable for recipes such as Zucchini Appetizer.

When harvesting, it's best to use a thin, sharp knife; don't try to yank them off with your hands or you will probably damage the whole plant! You should be able to begin your harvesting of summer squash in early July and continue through September. An ideal size is 6" and they are so flavorful at this stage you might be tempted to snack on them before you even leave the garden. Easy Zucchini Dip: add a bit of freshly snipped dill to some plain yogurt.


Leeanna Henderson said...

Or you could find a local Farmer's market and drive them out of business with "Summer Squash $.50 a dozen"