Garden Highlights

'Black' zucchini

Zucchini – ‘Black’ – Pinetree Garden Seeds –  1931 Heirloom – “Excellent taste” (true)

Zucchini may be common but there is drama in zucchini – at least this year, which, channeling on my Chinese roots (circa 5,000 years ago) must be called the Year of the Bug. Every day I’ve been looking for three villains:  dark grey large squash bugs, striped cucumber beetles, and weird grey spider/bugs which live in clusters mostly and have fast nervous movements. These last (which I haven’t identified so far) laid waste an innocent cucumber plant several years ago so I’m well acquainted with their serious intentions.  I’ve had no choice but to drown them in soapy water (with added lid for the Houdini-like cucumber beetles). Since I’ve been appropriately watching old reruns of Gunsmoke lately, I think I know a little about how to be the sheriff in the Garden of Dodge. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it – even if it means not ever marrying Kitty – however I have managed to stay married.

So I got fast at dropping those bugs into my jar – all to maintain peace and order so the zucchini can go to school on sunlight and water, and graduate zucchinis for Zucchini Mushroom Quiche from the Cabbagetown Cafe Cookbook by Julie Jordan. This is my favorite all time cookbook.  It appears out of print now, but used copies are still available. Or the Vegetable Rosti with Tomato Corn Relish from the June issue of Vegetarian Times Magazine.

This zucchini has great flavor and texture – not watery and bland like some I have tasted.  It is an heirloom and doesn’t bear wildly as do zucchini hybrids. But this feature is one I sought out since I could just go crazy trying to keep up with barrels of zucchini. I am planning to save seeds from this plant – if it survives.  To save the seed, according to the book, Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth,  let a zucchini grow till its rind is hard and cannot be dented by a fingernail. Then remove the seed three weeks or longer after harvest. (I plan to store it in the refrigerator.) Rinse the seeds in a colander under a stream of water and remove any debris.  Dry the seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. I’m hoping to gradually evolve seed that is acclimated to my garden and maybe even has a little resistance to our bugs due to its better vitality. Another heirloom zucchini from Johnny’s Selected Seeds is called Costata Romanesco which also sounds delicious but looks a bit different than the classic zucchini, with ribs and a pale grey-green color.