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Move over, zucchini.

If you've been stuck on the same no-name variety of zucchini in your summer vegetable garden, you may be missing out on some of the tastiest summer squash around. Catalogs now offer a whole new range of colors, shapes, and sizes, with flavors that range from mild to sweet to nutty. When freshly picked from the garden, they may even win over the staunchest squash bigots. Squash seeds are large and easy to handle, and planting them makes a good summer project for youngsters. Seeds germinate within a week or so, and plants start bearing fruit in as little as six weeks. Yellow or green, scalloped or round Most summer squash fit into one of three categories-scallop (patty pan), zucchini, and crookneck and straightneck. New introductions described here are among the scallop and zucchini types. Several years ago, the biggest breakthrough in scallop squash came with the introduction of bright yellow Sunburst'. Many consider it far superior to the old-fashioned whitish green types, which are often described as bland-tasting and tough skinned, especially if over 3 inches in diameter. Light green Peter Pan' is another good choice. Some of the most exciting news comes from the zucchini family. Old-time European favorites recently introduced here are some of the tenderest and best-tasting squash around. No longer are zucchini just smooth-skinned, long, and green. They can be almost white ('Sakiz'), bright yellow 'Gold Rush'), perfectly round ('Ronde de Nice'), or long and fluted ('Zucchina Costa Romanesca'). Crookneck and straightneck squash vary little in color and form. They are pale to bright yellow and have lightly textured skin (it gets bumpier with age); flavor is delicate and mild. Plant enough for your family (you'll probably feed the neighbors, too) All squash are easy to grow and will reward you with a long-lasting, abundant harvest. Your biggest job will be picking them often enough to keep plants producing (fruit left on the plant inhibits flowering and fruiting). When plants are harvested regularly, many types supply up to 8 pounds of squash per plant. Two or three plants should be plenty to feed a family of four-and have some to give away, too. Pick a spot in full sun and plant in rows or hills 3 to 4 feet apart; mix in fertilizer and plenty of organic matter before planting. You can plant as soon as the soil warms to 70'. In the lower deserts, plant in August or early September for a fall harvest. Sow seeds I inch deep. In rows, plant 4 to 6 inches apart; when first few leaves have developed, thin to 21/2 to 4 feet apart (depending on vine length of variety). In hills, plant four or five seeds; thin to two plants. Give plants ample water, but keep it off leaves, stems, and blossoms to avoid powdery mildew-a serious problem in coastal climates and on plants growing in partial shade. Drip irrigation helps eliminate Water waste and avoids wetting foliage. Harvest squash at the baby stage or let them reach standard size, but get them before large seeds form. Since freshly Picked squash don't have the chance to sit around and toughen like store-bought ones, cooking time is shorter. Overgrown squash are good for stuffing (remove seeds). Male blossoms can also be stuffed 'Butterblossom' zucchini was bred for its large flowers). Choose the flowers with long, straight stems (females have short ones, and the flower end is bulbous where the fruit forms). Pick just as they're about to open; use immediately. Seed sources Most nurseries sell a variety of squash seeds, but, for more unusual kinds, you may want to order from one of these sources (catalogs free unless noted). Nichols Garden Nursery, 1190 N. Pacific Highway, Albany, Ore. 97321. Park Seed Co., Greenwood, S.C. 29647. Redwood City Seed Co., Box 36 1, Redwood City, Calif. 94064. Send a stamped, self addressed envelope for free squash seed list. Seeds Bldm, Idaho City Stage, Boise 83706. Catalog $3. Shepherd's Garden Seeds, 6116 Highway 9, Felton, Calif. 95018. Catalog $ 1. Fl
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Jun 1, 1990
Words:672
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