Nothing Says Summer Like Zucchini
Zucchini—is anything more quintessentially summer? But here are some tidbits you might not know:
- The ancestors of zucchini, like all squash, are native to the Americas. They were brought to Europe in the 1600s, but the Italians are credited with actually breeding zucchini. The word comes from the Italian word for squash–“zucca”. The zucchini didn’t make it back to the Americas until the early 1920s—brought over by Italian immigrants.
- Zucchini is a good source of antioxidants, called carotenoids. It’s fat-free, and a good source of manganese, vitamin C, and potassium. It is also a great source of fiber and trace minerals. Zucchini is low in calories and may help to fight cancer and heart disease.
- One zucchini is a zucchina.
- Zucchini produce both male and female flowers. The female flower has a baby zucchini at the base. If it turns yellow and falls off while still tiny, it’s most likely because it did not get pollinated. If you have a lack of bees in your yard, you may need to step in and pollinate by hand. Take a small paintbrush, dip the tip into a male flower (the one without the tiny fruit at the base) and pollinate all the female flowers with it.
- Zucchini is the only fruit that starts with “Z”.
- The largest zucchini ever grown was grown in the UK—it was 69 ½ inches long and weighed 65 pounds!
- The flowers of zucchini, like the flowers of yellow squash, are edible and can be stuffed and roasted or fried.
Grow Your Own
Zucchini and other squash are easy to grow in a sunny garden. Because squash is somewhat prone to powdery mildew, give squash plenty of room. Keep your eyes out for squash bug eggs—which you’ll find laid in clusters of 15 or so on the backs of the leaves. You can simply “tap” them off with the sticky side of duct tape. Squash bug nymphs winter over in the soil, so if they become a problem, plant your squash elsewhere next year.
Squash vine borers are larvae that burrow into the stem at the base of the plant. You’ll notice the leaves at the end of the vine beginning to wilt, even though the plant has been watered. Once you get them, it’s very difficult to get rid of them so the best thing is to not get them! Take strips of aluminum foil and wrap them around the stems at the base of your plant. If the insects can’t get to the stem to lay their egg, you won’t get squash vine borer.
And, just in case you get a bumper crop, there is actually a day called “Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day”.
Let’s celebrate the summer season by growing and eating a generous amount of zucchini. They taste great and they’re good for you!