Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Sneakin' some zucchini
Back in May, when it was time to plant, I got out my seed collection, and realized that I'd forgotten to order zucchini and yellow squash from my preferred supplier (Johnny's), and it wasn't worth placing such a small order, since I could get the seeds locally. Turns out, hardly anyone carries seeds any more, or at least not a wide selection, but by the time I'd figured that out, it was too late to mail-order them. Eventually, I found what I needed -- zucchini for me and yellow squash for a friend who helps in my garden, and who hates zucchini but likes yellow squash. Me, I never liked summer squash at all, regardless of variety (although this summer I've found, to my surprise, that yellow squash isn't bad, if it's not overcooked, and it's mixed in with other stuff, instead of served on its own), and I usually only grow the zucchini so I can harvest one baseball-bat-sized squash to make into zucchini bread, which I do like, but shouldn't eat with the sort of abandon that a person might be encouraged to eat, say, stewed zucchini.
I went to plant the seeds, and realized that, in my total disinterest in the fine points of summer squash, I hadn't noticed that the yellow squash seeds weren't actually "yellow squash," but a yellow variety of zucchini (shown in the pic above, with a couple real yellow squash for comparison -- they're the two lighter yellow ones in the middle). The label even proclaims proudly: "with the distinctive flavor of zucchini." Which is just what my friend, who would be expected to eat the squash, doesn't like.
I said to heck with it, and planted a few of the yellow zucchini seeds (along with a few of the green zucchini seeds) anyway, because I'd spent a whole 98 cents on them, and I'd be damned if I was going to waste them. Three seeds each, in the hope that one seed of each variety would germinate, and we'd have a reasonably small number of plants.
But I still didn't have any real yellow squash for my friend, so I went back to hunting for seeds in local stores, and couldn't find the right seeds anywhere. I settled for buying a four-pack of seedlings (costs more than the seeds, and it's roughly four times as many yellow squash plants as we wanted, but the nursery doesn't offer single plants, and I was determined to have yellow squash for my friend). The seedlings survived transplanting, despite my best efforts to give at least a couple them of transplant shock. So, after the seeds germinated, we ended up with three green zucchini plants, three yellow zucchini plants and four yellow squash plants.
Even if you've never grown a vegetable in your life, you probably know that a single summer squash plant will produce enough squash in a single day to feed 3.8 people for two weeks. That's 3.8 people who actually LIKE -- or, even better, LOVE -- squash and are willing to eat it once or twice a day. Plus, those squash plants will keep producing that two-week supply for 3.8 people EVERY SINGLE DAY for the entire season, roughly mid-July to mid-September.
Now, my friend likes yellow squash, enough that she'll make it for her family of four once a week for a month or so. That's pretty much the harvest from ONE plant from ONE day. And we've got ten plants. With a life expectancy of sixty or more days. That's THOUSANDS of people-days' worth of squash.
Oh, yes, we're going to be celebrating Sneak Some Zucchini Onto The Neighbor's Porch Day this year. And perhaps extend the holiday, hybridizing it with a touch of Groundhog Day (in honor of the movie of that name), by doing a replay of August 8th every morning until the first hard frost.