A Day at Copia
Butternut/Moschata Squash--Yum!

Growing and Eating Zucchini

In the college garden, we are harvesting plenty of zucchini from plants over 3 feet tall. The first planting has been hit by the seemingly inevitable powdery mildew attack. I know there are those who would spray with a baking soda concoction, but it always seems simpler just to cut off any leaves that are covered with the white spores. (Have to do it while only a few leaves have spores, so that you have some left to support the plant.) Seems draconian, but once the spores cover the leaves, they can't photosynthesize anyway. As long as you keep ahead of it and the plant keeps making new leaves, the plants keep on bearing squash. We don't compost the leaves we cut off, since the spores can live through all but really hot compost, and we don't trust ours to be really hot all through.

The other problem we are trying to head off at the pass in this foggy, damp weather is the decay that starts at the blossom end of the squashes when the flower decays. The solution is to go in and find the forming squash and knock off the flowers before they can rot. If there is decay on the end of the squash under the flower, scrape it off with a fingernail.

The zucchini we are growing is a striped one, like Thompson and Morgan's Tiger Cross, with dark and light green stripes. It gets larger than most zucchini while still remaining tender and tasty. So it is at 9 or 10 inches as tender as most would be at 6 inches. I suspect that the one listed in the Nichols Garden Nursery Catalog and the Cooks Garden Catalog as Italiano Largo is similar in size, though not striped.

The trick to avoiding having too much zucchini is to pick 'em before they can get too big. But of course they hide under the leaves and get big before you see them, so constant vigilence is in order.

Nobody wants a two foot zucchini, but a 12 to 14 inch one is great for slicing in half lengthwise, scooping out the center, and stuffing. The stuffing can be vegetarian or not, as you choose. The one I gave in Golden Gate Gardenin is vegetarian, but with cheese and egg, and served with tomato sauce at the table. I think any recipe for a stuffed vegetable could be adapted. Or put them into a vegetable curry, a minestrone, a stir fry, even sliced with tomatoes and sprinkled with toasted pinenuts in a salad.


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Yes, powdery mildew is a common problem. See the entry above on picking leaves at the first sign of the disease--when the earliest symptoms of the disease first appear on lower leaves, pick them off. Repeat every few days. Slows it down quite a bit.


You say, "Nobody wants a two foot zucchini."

Not true --- I DO!

But alas, I live in the fog belt, and powdery mildew has done in my squashes for two years in a row now.

Chuck B.

Do you have a recommendation for a good butternut squash variety to grow in a San Francisco garden? (Bernal Heights specifically if that matters.) I had a volunteer pop up in my garden from unfinished compost I used as mulch.

I didn't know what it was at first, but I could tell soon enough. Butternut is my favorite winter squash and I use it for Thanksgiving and Christmas; alas, this volunteer started too late.

Space is a premium in my garden, and I was happy to see the Butternut "vine" take to a little improvised trellising. Zucchini gets too massive for my limited space.

Also, where's a good place to buy potato starts--or do you think it's okay to make one's own potato starts?

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