Rugosa Friulana Zucchini-doesn’t attract squash bugs

Rugosa Friulani

I’m trying a new variety of zucchini this year called Rugosa Friulana. It is a yellow, warty zucchini. It is growing 5′ away from my favorite green zucchini, Costata Romanesco. Both are Italian varieties. I thought I’d grow both and compare them.

COMPARSION

BUGS
I covered both plants with row cover after planting by seeds in late May. Male blossoms always appear first with squash, and then the female blossoms (with their little fruit attached at the base of the flower) appear. After the female flowers appear, I uncovered them both so the bees could get in to pollinate them. By keeping them covered early on, I avoided the Squash Viner Borer which appears earlier in the season and is gone by the time the female blossoms appears.

-The Costata Romanesco attracts squash bugs and I pick the adults and eggs off of the plant.

The Rugosa Friulana DOESN’T ATTRACT SQUASH BUGS! That fact alone will make me grow it again.  It’s only 5′ away Costata Romanesco, so you’d think it would attract the squash bug but it doesn’t. How thrilling is that!

PRODUCTION
-The Costata Romanesco started producing zucchini 2 weeks ago-mid-July

-The Rugosa Friulana just produced the first fruits now-Aug 7. Not that much difference.

Costata Romanesco

TASTE
Now comes the taste test. I sliced both and sauteed them in olive oil with only garlic salt.

The Costata Romanesco tends to have less dense flesh and has a sweet nutty flavor. When you slice it into discs, it has beautiful fluted sides. It has always been my favorite.

The Rugosa Friulana has denser flesh when you cut into it (I like that) and has a slightly different flavor (hard to describe but kinda nutty too). When you cut it into discs, it also has ruffly sides from the warts. I like it just as well.

 

So if you only want to grow one zucchini plant, you might consider Rugosa Friulana– very flavorful and squash bug resistant.

Both are really good but just knowing Rugosa Friulana won’t attract squash bugs  makes me want to grow it again. What a pleasant surprise!

 

The runaway

giant marrow 08-10

A BIG runaway! DISCLAIMER: This one is way too big to eat! I entered this in 2010 in the State Fair instead!

At this time of year if you’re a vegetable gardener, you’ve experienced it—zucchini runaways. One day you go out and see this cute little zuke and think I’ll give it one more day and the next day you go out and it grew into a baseball bat. It’s like overnight it got on some steroids and went ballistic.  Now it’s too big so what do we do with them besides hide them under the bed in case an intruder comes in? Well you could use them as door stops or take them to the fair but here are 4 ideas to eat them!

Savory Zucchini Pancakes
Take 2 cups of grated zucchini, add two beaten eggs, 2 tablespoons of flour, and 2 teaspoons of some fresh herb you have and 1 cup feta or mozzarella or cheddar or whatever cheese you have (please, no Velveeeeeta). If you want more, then just up the ingredients like 3 cups zucchini, 3 eggs, 3 tablespoons flour, etc. Just don’t up the herb, keep it at 2 tsp so not to overwhelm the flavor of the zucchini (what? zucchini has flavor? Yes, at least two varieties do – Costata Romanesco and Benning’s Green Tint (not a zucchini but a delicious summer squash). All the others, in my opinion, are worthy of either the compost pile or the chicken coop or both) Then saute them in olive oil until brown on both sides. This is my favorite way to cook super-sized zucchini.

Garlicky Zucchini Medallions
Slice them into medallions and saute them in olive oil with some crushed garlic cloves until tender in a BIG fry pan. Sprinkle lightly some red pepper flakes and add fresh grated Parmesan cheese on top and cook a few minutes more till melted. This is also great with a little left over spaghetti sauce drizzled over them.  (Can you really drizzle spaghetti sauce. No—but you get the idea-don’t drown them.)

Zuchinni Soufflini (This one comes from my mom-thanks mom!)
1 1/2 lbs zucchini
1 large onion, chopped
3 TLB butter
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs
2 TLB butter

Cook squash whole for about 5 minutes in boiling water. Cool. Dice into cubes. Saute’ onion in 3 TLB butter and add to zucchini. Stir in cheese and seasonings and allow mixture to cool before adding beaten eggs. Spoon into buttered 1 quart casserole. Toss bread crumbs with 2 TLB melted butter and sprinkle over casserole. Bake 30-40 minutes at 350°F about 30 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean. Serves 4-6 people.

Of course there is always the infamous zucchini bread but how about chocolate zucchini bread? I got this recipe from a friend many moons ago and it is excellent. Your kids, friends, spouse or partner will never know they are eating something healthy!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
2 ¼  cup all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 ¾  cup sugar
½ cup butter
½ c vegetable oil
2 eggs, large
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
2 cup unpeeled zucchini, grated
6 oz choc chips
¾ c chopped walnuts

-Preheat oven 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 13” x 9” x 2” baking pan
-Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt into large bowl.
-Beat sugar, butter and oil in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract. Mix in dry ingredients, alternate w/ buttermilk in 3 additions each, fold in zucchini. Mix in choc. chips + nuts. Pour into the baking pan. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean in about 50 min. Cool completely in pan.

So the next time you get a runaway, don’t despair, now you have some ideas on how to use them besides hiding them under your bed!

What’s wrong with this zucchini?

What’s wrong with this zucchini? The one on the left is yellowing and shriveling up. It wasn’t either fully pollinated (some bee didn’t do her job) OR once again it was too hot when pollination happened and it didn’t take hence it is self aborting. Just like tomatoes, all squash likes the heat but not when it is trying to pollinate. The zucchini on the right side of the photo is fine.

Planting Summer Squash

Costata Romanesco

Summer squash is a warm season crop. A friend asked me yesterday when should she plant her summer squash seeds in the soil. Should she do it now that the magic date of May 15th has past. Well, we might be over freezing nights BUT the soil temperature is still pretty cool for these crops. Summer squash likes to be planted when the soil is a little warmer so I would wait at least a week. Here is some information about growing summer squash.

-The soil temperature should be between 65°F-75°F when planting the seeds. My soil temperature today was 62°F where I’m want to plant them so I’m going to wait till it is warmer because 70°F is actually optimum. If you plant too early, the seeds could rot or not germinate.

-Summer squash are heavy feeders so put lots of compost in your hole when planting and be sure to fertilize them at least 1 time a month during the growing season with fish emulsion and seaweed fertilizer.

I plant in a ‘hill’ which actually isn’t a hill at all but a circle where I put three seeds spaced out in each ‘hill’. That way if one of them gets a disease I can just cut it out and still have a couple left.

Two plants will feed 4-6 people so don’t go too wild unless you are feeding your neighborhood! I consider a ‘hill’ basically as one plant. Otherwise you will be looking for zucchini ‘victims’-people who will take some off your hands!

– Everyone tends to plant squash too close. Give them lots of room between plants. I like to give them about 4 feet between plants which seem like alot but they always seem to fill in the space. Overcrowding encourages powdery mildew later in the season.

-Plant some onions around your squash plant. This may help deter the dreaded squash bug from wanting to visit your plant. I planted some last year and I got a few but I think I got less of them.

-Summer squash starts producing fruit from about 52-65 days.

-Harvest when the zucchini type is about 8 inches long and the skin is easily pierce-able with your fingernail. Pick patty pan types when they are 2-3 inches in  diameter.

My favorite summer squash to grow

I like summer squash but won’t grow varieties that I can find in the stores or my farmers market. Why grow something I can already buy? So I’ve tried a number of different types of summer squash and definitely have my favorites. So here are my three favorite summer squashes.

Costata Romanesco-picture courtesy of uprisingorganics.com

ZUCCHINI TYPES:-#1-COSTATA ROMANESCO: This is my ALL TIME FAVORITE of ANY type of summer squash. Costata Romanesco is a ribbed zucchini from Rome, Italy and a famous Italian heirloom. Often considered to be the best tasting and best textured zucchini.  The flavor is sweet and nutty. The long fruit are fluted with medium, green-striped skin. The cut slices are scalloped. They are popular fried whole with the flower still on when still small. They are very flavorful and a perfect, gourmet variety. Pick this variety when it is 7-10 inches long.

Lungo Bianco

#2-LUNGO BIANCO: This variety is a light-green-cream heirloom zucchini and another popular squash from Italy. They are smooth skinned, mild and sweet. Pick this when it is 6-8 inches long

Bennings Green Tint-picture courtesy of sustainableseed.com

SCALLOP TYPE: BENNINGS GREEN TINT: My FAVORITE SCALLOP variety of summer squash is Bennings Green Tint which is a light green scallop squash. It stays tender longer and is extremely flavorable and not bitter.  Very nutty like flavor. I’ve tried golden Custard, yellow types, white types and striped types but ‘Bennings Green Tint’ tops them all for the scalloped variety. I like the colors of the other varieties but the flavor is missing. Pick this when it is 2-3 inches in diameter.

Giant Marrows gone to State Fair

I had my friend Lava, enter 3 zucchinis in the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque last Tuesday for me while I’ve been gone in NYC. One (the smallest) was a traditional zucchini, and 2 were giant varieties called marrows. A marrow is in the zucchini family-Curcurbita Pepo. It is grown more in Europe than in the states. It is eaten when small but the giant varieties have the capacity to get big-really big-much bigger than our ordinary variety of zucchini! I weighed my two smaller marrows that I entered into the fair on my bathroom scale and one was about 25 lbs and the other was around 35 lbs. I wonder if anyone in NM is growing a giant variety of marrow. I didn’t even weigh my traditional zucchini because it was so small compared to the giant varieties. I am going down to the fair today to see if I got any ribbons..

Getting ready to measure the biggest marrow

I still left the biggest marrow in the patch to see how big it will grow before the Colorado weigh-offs. It measured almost 30″ long and 14″ wide about a week ago. I think it weighs about 45 lbs right now. Here is a pic of me getting ready to weigh it.

measuring length-almost 30" (see I wasn't lying!)

I love the marrows-one of the most exciting plants I grew this year. I’ll have to harvest some seeds, although they were probably cross-pollinated by the bees with my winter squash. I’m still going to keep some seeds..

I also entered in ‘Harpie’, one of my two giant pumpkins. Lava said it officially weighed 99 lbs at the fair. I don’t think it will place but I’m gonna try!

biggest marrow that went to the fair-35 lbs!

See the difference between a marrow and a regular zucchini?!

measuring width-almost 14"