Cucurbits From My Garden

A range of open-pollinated garden squashes and zucchini

Over the last few years I haven’t been growing enough cucurbits (namely squashes and cucumbers) to meet our eating demands, so last winter I resolved to dedicate more garden space to a range of types in the 2013 growing season. This meant cutting back a bit on my beloved tomatoes, but alas… While I was at it, I decided to expand my horizons with a few varieties that I have never grown before. The above photo represents a few of the most productive varieties of the many that are currently growing in either raised beds or large containers.

Let’s begin with the yellow zucchini ‘Giallo de Italia,’ a rare open-pollinated golden zucchini. Above it are two ‘Cocozelle’ zucchinis, both from the same plant (in most cases I only grew one of each variety). Unfortunately, I planted these two varieties right next to each other so I won’t be saving seed.

On the top right is ‘Pilar’ aka ‘Zapallito Redondo de Tronco,’ a variety whose praises I have recently sung. The plant just keeps getting bigger and bigger and has provided us with countless blossoms for stuffing as well as several fruit. I am in love.

Below that is ‘Golden Nugget,’ a compact, bushing winter squash that I am growing in a massive pot. Unfortunately, it seems to be succumbing to mildew, but not before I got a few good fruits from the plant. We haven’t eaten any of them yet, but I already feel confident that I will try growing it again next year based on its performance in producing several, early squashes in a small space.

I’m not quite sure which cucumber this is as my tags and plants got mixed up at planting time. Whichever it is, the fruit is delicious, crunchy, and fresh!

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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4 thoughts on “Cucurbits From My Garden

  1. I am growing Bottle Gourds and Dipper Gourds, 4 vines of each. One patch is on a super tall 2 piece “Texas Tomato Cage” and the other is on a vast chain link fence suddenly sunny after Hurricane Sandy swept away my ancient Blue Spruce.

    Right before that storm I debated removing the Spruce or the Chokecherry, as one had to go due to encroaching shade. I elected to remove the Chokecherry… then Sandy took my Spruce! Now it’s almost too sunny there.

    Both gourd patches are protected with the intensely aromatic Sweet Annie Artemisia which deters striped and spotted cucumber beetles. Last year with only 2 vines of each type my harvest was 31 gourds. In 2011, prior to using Sweet Annie, flowers were eaten by beetles before pollination was achieved, day after day, and my harvest was a disappointing four fruits!

    Last fall I dried all 31 gourds. This spring I drilled them for birdhouses then sold them at my plant sale. Entry holes, drainage holes and hanging holes, with husband’s help. It was a really fun project to drill, scrape out (dust mask advised) and wire the gourds for hanging. Seeds were saved to use this year. Each gourd was unique and attractive. I really wanted to keep them all. A few were given as gifts to very appreciative recipients. I was pleasantly surprised that the gourds dried out in mere months. Even the molding patterns were attractive.

    Your photos inspire me to branch out with edible curcurbits. Thanks Gayla for sharing your gardening adventures.

    • Sorry to hear about your spruce.

      I’m starting to notice more cucumber beetles in my garden. Not a shock since I live in an Italian neighbourhood where everyone is growing an abundance of squashes. Using artemisia is brilliant… although I am reluctant to introduce more after the experiences I’ve had trying to keep anything in that genus under control!

  2. I also have trouble reining in Artemisias, the perennial Silver King and Silver Queen types, still ripping it out years later. Southernwood is the most well behaved Artemisia I’ve met so far.
    With the annual Sweet Annie, I found very few self-sown seedlings this spring. I expected many more judging from the sizes of the plants last fall when frost hit. I even purposely placed a big seed-laden branch on the ground near my hedge hoping for a little grove of Sweet Annies to start up there, thinking I could draw from that stash and transplant them where I needed them. It did not happen.

    When I looked up advice on sowing the seeds, it was recommended to “husk” them to enhance germination. I did this between my fingers as I dropped masses of them into a seedling tray inside, in March. The results from that little rubbing squeeze were dozens of plants, more than enough for my and lots to share.
    Collecting Sweet Annie seeds involved waiting for the branch to be good and dry with most of its foliage shed, then stripping everything off the branch into a baggie. I just grabbed a bit of this dusty stuff between my fingers to sow it this spring.

  3. Gorgeous fruit!
    I’m growing Zucchino da Fiore squash this year – this is a compact variety grown for flowers mostly, but it also produces a fruit here and there. Another squash (no name, found some seeds in a film canister from years ago) was planted just about a month ago since I had space after harvesting garlic. It’s an experiment so far…
    I also grow Russian and Parisian pickling cucumbers and some gherkins.
    At the community garden, we have some public space for leftovers that we share. This year we got a donation of seedlings from a greenhouse, mostly yellow summer squash and some winter squash without tags. We have over 2 dozen squash plants total!
    This year is definitely a squash year for me!

    Have you tried growing Armenian cucumbers? I talked to the owner of our corner store the other day, who is Palestinian, and he kept praising his beloved fakus.

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