Besides conjuring up pictures of gourd-like images, you should know that there are hundreds of kinds of squash. Pumpkins, zucchini, spaghetti, acorn are some of the favorite kinds of squash grown in Alberta.
There is compact and gigantic size squash so knowing which kind of plant will produce what is really important when you are planting. If you have a plant that produces “giant” varieties, you will need a big space for that plant. Squash called “summer variety” produces a compact plant that can be grown in planters or out in the garden and not take up much space. A self-watering container works well because squash can be picky about its watering needs. Compost added to the dirt of a squash plant works wonders because squash thrives on organic matter.
If planting your squash plants in the garden a hill method works well. Squash do not like to be sitting in water. So planting the plant on a hill allows air to get underneath the plant and keep the water trickling down away from the leaves.
Squash usually are self-pollinating, that is they produce both male and female flowers on the plant. If the summer is too cold, the plant might only produce male flowers and thus produce no fruit. The female flowers have a distinct “bulb” on the end of them, which is the fruit. If you want to eat the flowers (awesome in a salad) be sure to pick only the male flowers and leave the females to produce.
If you have a zucchini that is producing way too much fruit, pick off half of the flowers to cut back on production. If you leave the fruit on the vine and do not pick it – the plant will shut off production totally.
The other thing to do is give extra zucchini away to your friends and family and include a recipe to spark their interest into using the squash.
Zucchini and spaghetti squash work well as a spaghetti substitute – spiralizer the squash and steam your squash noodles, and serve just like spaghetti with sauce and a sprinkle of parmesan. Yum!
You can grate your zucchini and freeze to add to casseroles, soups, cakes and loaves throughout the winter.
How about Zucchini Pizza Bites? Sauté in olive oil zucchini slices for 1-2 minutes per side. Place onto lightly greased cooking sheet and top with spaghetti sauce or Mariana sauce, sprinkle with some mozzarella, place some mini pepperoni slices on top add a splash of parmesan cheese and pop under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Let cool slightly and enjoy!
Squash is one of the most versatile plants to have in your garden!