I harvested the first summer squash on Saturday. Though it seems early, actually the first harvest came at pretty much the same time last year. From left to right in the photo below we have the straightneck yellow squash Enterprise, the zucchini Sure Thing, the light green zucchini Cavili, and the dark green Partenon.
We are growing Cavili for the first time, though I’ve grown other light green Mediterranean squash before. Partenon is another first timer here. Both varieties set fruit without pollination (parthenocarpy), as does Sure Thing. Now that we have our own hive of hard working bees, I doubt that we will have any pollination issues. But the parthenocarpic varieties do seem to produce well under challenging conditions (cold and wet weather), and we’re growing many of the same varieties at the urban Impact Garden where pollination could be an issue.
We have six summer squash plants, which is quite a lot really. Last year we harvested around 75 pounds from the same number of plants, which is more than we can eat. But we gave over half of it away, which is one reason we have so many plants. We are trying to donate at least a tenth of our garden output to charities, which isn’t counting what we give to family and friends. Our garden is bountiful, and we love to share. And we surely can’t stand to see food go to waste.
We do freeze a lot of the squash for soup. I make a soup mix of beans, squash, carrots, onions, etc. that we use in the winter for vegetable soup. This year we have planted okra, which will be a nice addition to the mix.
I mulched the row of squash plants with newspaper and covered the paper with some aged straw. I love mulching squash this way, but until the paper has weathered a bit it is prone to flying off on a windy day. I’ve had to repair the mulch twice already, but it will settle down eventually. It does keep the squash from laying right on the soil as they grow, though it also helps give squash bugs a hiding place. I handpick the squash bug adults and eggs (which are usually laid on the underside of the leaves) and also spray neem oil regularly, and that regimen seems to work.
I’m also growing a couple of vining type summer squashes that have their own spot in the garden. Tromboncino is a prolific climbing zucchini that is wonderful in the kitchen. And I’m growing the heirloom Tatume for the first time. Tatume has round green striped fruits that can be used either as summer or winter squashes. Texas A&M has a nice writeup on this squash. It reminds me a bit of the old Kuta squash I used to grow that was dual-purpose, usable at both the tender summer stage and later on when the rind got hard, but Park Seeds dropped that one years ago. No chance of that with Tatume, since it is open pollinated and pretty widely available.
We had some of those first squashes sauteed in olive oil last night, with a little oregano and basil for seasoning. I’m guessing this won’t be the last time we enjoy squash this year by a long shot!