Most people grow summer squash, such as zucchini, for the vegetables. But I grow squash for the blossoms. Squash blossoms are delightful, with a taste that is both herbal and floral. I’ve eaten them alone, and dipped in hummus. I’ve seen them on menus- one even offered a fried version- but I like them plain and they are one of my favorite edible flowers. Of course, it’s silly to just plant a vegetable and eat the flowers, which means I also have become a fan of cooking with summer squash, especially pattypan squash which is both delicious and cute. I thought planting pattypan squash would get my kids to eat squash, mainly due to the cuteness factor, but no such luck- they still prefer to eat zucchini in my zucchini bread muffins (which are just fancy vegetable versions of cake).
Summer squash are relatively easy to grow but do require a fair amount of space in the garden, as they are vining plants. They are prolific producers and you will harvest squash from early summer to first frost. One variety- yellow crookneck squash- can even be grown in containers, as it is more of a bush-variety. Before planting, work compost into the area, about two heaping spadefuls at each site. Summer squash (Cucurbita pepo) seeds should be planted 8 inches apart, or if you are transplanting seedlings, plant them 3 feet apart. In anywhere from 50 to 70 days, you should be ready to harvest- and have a variety of shape and colors to slice up and serve along cold dips or sautee to serve alongside grilled chicken all summer long!
Jackpot Hybrid is ready in 42 days! Not only that, it grows on space-saving vines (only 30 inches!) and is spineless. Pick young for best texture and taste.
Black Magic is ready in 50 days and produces all summer long. Semi-spineless vines yield huge crops.
Scallop Hybrid Mix is an excellent choice for a variety of baby scallop squash! Moonbeam White, Sunbeam, and Total Eclipse are included in this seed mix that is ready for harvest in 42-49 days.
Gentry Hybrid yields semi-crookneck fruits- even in the toughest summer conditions- in 44 days.
Early Prolific Straightneck is a long-time favorite for eating, with creamy flesh and a delicate taste. Ready in 42 days.
There are quite a few newish interesting hybrids, so check gurneys.com for a lot more options. A few that caught my eye:
Partenon Variety sets fruit even without pollination, and does well in containers, making it perfect for screened in porches and lanais.
Eclipse Variety is very versatile- pick it young to use on kebabs, or pick it mature and stuff it or grill it!