ZUCCHINI & WINTER SQUASH
Zucchini grows great here! I’ve been growing zucchini both outdoors in the summer and in the greenhouse year-round since the garden began. Although one plant would normally be enough just for the two of us, I always like to cook a combination of yellow and green zucchini together. I especially like those grilled with red & orange sweet peppers and onions, but that’s another story for the recipe file.
Outdoors I typically plant one each, green & yellow in one bed along with some spinach, lettuce or onions at the ends of the beds. The lettuce & spinach are harvested early, so by the time the zucchini plants get big the lettuces & spinach are gone. The onions don’t take much space at the ends or in the center. I’m beginning to look for zucchini varieties that indicate “compact” plants, which helps in the raised beds both outside & in.
In the greenhouse, I’ll plant just one zucchini at a time, since they do take up space. I usually choose yellow there. Zucchini is always planted someplace where I can string it up to the beam or ceiling, to grow the zucchini vertically.
Both outside and inside I pollinate the zucchini by hand. We just don’t get enough bees or other bugs here to do that for me. I keep some duck feathers handy by the plants, swab the males then the female flowers with them when those flowers are wide open. The biggest problem I’ve had with zucchini is that frequently I have either all males or all females, and can’t pollinate. I’ve tried to find information about how to keep both sexes growing, but I just can’t find anything. Some sources indicate that often the plants will produce lots of males first, prior to the females, but in my experience I’ve often had lots of females and not enough males. Go figure.
ZUCCHINI VARIETIES GROWN
Costata | 60 Days | Did quite well outdoors.
Golden Zucchini | 53 Days | Did very well both outdoors and in the greenhouse.
Nero di Milano | 45 Days | Did not do as well as the Costata.
Cocozelle | 53 Days | Not as abundant as the Costata, but did okay outdoors.
We both really like winter squashes of various types, and were pretty successful at our lower location. However, in that low location we were plagued by squash bugs and cucumber beetles, and the fight went on most of the summer, sometimes losing plants completely. Here, at 9,000 feet, I have not seen either one of those vermin. (Shhhhh!!! I don’t want them to find us!)
Winter squash has not been as successful as the zucchini outdoors. I’d heard about other gardeners in the area growing winter squash successfully, even varieties that indicate 100 days to maturity, so I thought I would have no problem. But I wasn’t so successful.
The outdoor season is apparently not long enough or warm enough. I have tried several things to make up for this: I choose varieties with the shortest number of days to maturity. I choose varieties that indicate they are cold hardy. I choose bush varieties that fit better in my raised beds. I keep them covered most of the summer nights with plastic over the hoops, and roll up the plastic during the day. I have kept bottles of warm water near them during the beginning of the season when plants are small. I hand pollinate them as soon as I can to get them growing. I prune off dead stuff so it can put all its energy into growing squash.
Each year has gotten progressively better. The first year (2017) I planted 11 winter squash plants outdoors (perhaps I went overboard!) and harvested no squashes (zero, zed, zip, nada). The second year (2018) I grew 4 winter squash plants and harvested seven squash from one plant (Gold Nugget), but they were mushy and did not taste good. Finally this year (2019) I had some success outdoors with the Bush Delicata and Reno Acorn. (2 Delicatas & 2 Acorn.) Is it worth dedicating nearly a whole bed for four squashes? Yes, considering each year is a new experiment and each year gets a little better.
GREENHOUSE: WINTER SQUASH
In 2018 I had some spare room in the greenhouse in the summer, so I tried one winter squash there, “Celebration”. Although I did not have many males & females blooming at the same time, I was able to hand pollinate and grew two squashes that year. They were delicious, so I made plans to do the same the following year.
2019 I planted 2 Celebration, 1 Reno Acorn and 1 Bush Delicata in the greenhouse. (The Reno and Delicata were also grown outdoors.) Indoors there were 5 Celebration squashes on 2 plants, 1 Reno and 1 Delicata. So few? Yes, but at least we got those and have been enjoying them. And yes, since I don’t use the greenhouse for as many things during the summer I’m good with dedicating the space to winter squash.
WINTER SQUASH GROWN (OR ATTEMPTED)
Guatamalan Blue | 91 Days | 2017 | Plants, but no squash.
Lakota | 85-100 Days | 2017 | Plants, but no squash.
Sweet Meat | 80 Days | 2017 | Plants, a couple of small squash that did not mature.
Celebration |80 Days | 2018 | Both inside and out: inside produced 2 squash, outdoors zero.
Thelma Sanders’ Sweet Potato Squash | 85-95 Days | 2018 | A couple of small shriveled squash never matured.
Zeppelin Delicata | 100 Days | 2018 | No squash.
Gold Nugget “Bush” Squash | 85 Days | 2018 | 7 squashes that tasted terrible.
Reno F1 Acorn Bush Squash | 75 Days | 2019 | 1 plant indoors with 1 squash, 1 plant outdoors with 2 squash.
Bush Delicata | 80 Days | 2019 | 1 plant indoors with 1 squash, 1 plant outdoors with 2 squash.
Celebration | 80 Days | 2019 | 2 plants indoors produced 5 squash.