Summer squash is one of the fruits we DON'T grow here for various reasons. It's so ubiquitous during the summer that neighbors and farmer's markets are usually innundated with them. Plus it's not something we eat much of. By the end of July, most people who receive a weekly CSA have become so tired of eating summer squash that they are more than ready to move on to the next NEW produce item from the farm; they welcome the thought of never seeing a zucchini for the rest of season. Ahh, the perils of local and seasonal eating! We found a great solution to this (at least if you're growing your own food) - the dual purpose squash. The seedlings were actually grown and given to us by Rissa, one of our interns who happens to be a quite a foodie and a really great chef. This heirloom squash has a few names: Zucchino Rampicante, Zucca D'albenga, Trombocino, Climbing Zucchini or Italian Trombone. It's a slender 2 foot squash that bulbs out at the end and the mature fruits get even longer. The Italians use the mature squash for stuffing ravioli, a venture I hope to take part of this season.
The plant is prolific and needs a lot of space to climb and ramble. The support needs to be strong enough to accomodate the multiple fruits it produces. We planted it in two locations: one in a very large pot at the base of the high tunnel skeleton so it would climb up on of the ribs and the other along a 6 foot wooden fence. They are both doing well and best of all, they are squash vine borer resistant. So for container growers and for regular gardeners this plant works in both situations.
Oftentimes when you are growing as much food as we are, you can't find a way to use up all the food. This plant solves the dilemma: pick from it when you need some summer squash in your recipe or don't pick from it and leave it on the vine to mature and store for winter use. This is my new favorite fruit to grow and one we wil definitely make available as seedlings next spring at the farmer's market.
For now, check out this intriguing recipe for summer squash with basil, mint and honey!
Watch for winter squash recipes later in the season...hopefully ravioli stuffed with rampicante squash!