Conquering the zucchini beast

Farm Forum

The morning of July 4th found me out and about and enjoying the cool breezes for an early morning walk with my puppy dog, Tootie Two. We were basking in the bright sunshine and looking forward to the upcoming day’s celebration. As we walked past the garden, powers beyond our control veered us sharply to the right toward the garden gate, pushed the tied gate wide open without any effort and deposited us miraculously into the middle of the garden patch.

Like so many other old gardeners, I just couldn’t help myself from checking the garden. You know how it is… whether it’s early in the morning or late at night; passionate gardeners need to take a quick peek just in case something stupendous might be happening in their plant domain and they aren’t there to witness it.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, something stupendous had happened overnight in the garden and Tootie found it. Actually, she sniffed it out and brought it to my attention with a few of her high-pitched barks. She knew this was something out of the ordinary and let me know that I must investigate immediately. And so that is how it was discovered. There it was —big as life — and proudly flourishing right in the middle of the garden. And the story goes like this…

Something’s always happening in a garden

Gardens are definitely a piece of paradise in my book. There is always something new going on and surprising even an old gardener like me. I’ve grown a garden most of my life and nature never ceases to amaze me with its wondrous abilities to produce so much

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food with so little effort. Anyway, back to my story and the stupendous discovery.

Upon entering the garden that morning, Tootie and I found that our four zucchini plants were in full bloom and lo and behold, one plant had already popped out a nice sized fruit. What a stupendous treat! And to think that I had planted my garden on the 7th of June, and that I already had a zucchini fruit to enjoy on the 4th of July. What a cause for a celebration! Of course, I did cheat just a teensy little bit because I planted zucchini plants and not zucchini seeds this year. But, hey, it was still an awesome experience for me.

With the glorious discovery of a zucchini fruit just waiting to be harvested, my saliva juices kicked into full capacity mode and my brain cells started conjuring up all sorts of yummy zucchini dishes to prepare. For instance: making zucchini bread or zucchini relish or zucchini cake or zucchini brownies or preparing a wonderful zucchini hot dish! Yum! I call this zucchini mania time because there are so many foods you can make with a zucchini that you don’t know which one to make first.

It’s also mania time because one zucchini plant can feed a family; two plants can feed an army; three plants can feed a community; and here I had four plants producing. What was I going to do with all this production?

Zucchini-less dilemma

In my own defense, I bought four plants this year for one reason and one reason only-so that I could make lots of zucchini bread. Last year I didn’t grow any zucchinis and no one seemed to have any to give me. Heaven forbid, I even had to break down and buy a zucchini to make my specialty bread. That action almost killed me! Seriously, whoever heard of me (alias Zucchini Janie) buying a zucchini squash to make zucchini bread? Unheard of. Let me explain further.

The Zucchini Motto

Over the years I have grown such a surplus of zucchini squash that my sisters and other relatives hate to see the whites of my eyes in the summer time. I am noted for kindly bestowing several large zucchini fruits in their car trunks and backseats at family reunions even though they insisted that this kind gesture was not necessary. And if perchance, they had their vehicles locked, well, I did one better.

I drove to their homes in the dead of the night and very quietly left large zucchini gifts on their front porches and sometimes even on their back porches just to surprise them and make them happy. I wouldn’t think of ever leaving them zucchini-less. Sometimes my relatives have even found zucchinis piled in their tandem trucks. I must confess, however, that I never loaded their semis with zucchinis. But, the thought did cross my mind because those of us who have zucchinis must share them with others. That’s what is known as the Zucchini Motto.

I am jesting again, but I think you get my point. After many years of growing zucchinis, I learned not to plant a whole package of seeds. It seems that if I touch a zucchini seed – it grows and produces until the snow flies. So that is why this year I simply bought plants rather than seeds. I felt that I had a little more control of the situation with only four plants. However, from the way it looks in my garden right now, I might be proven wrong. It appears that the zucchini beast is going to win the battle again.

Conquering the Zucchini Beast

But before I admit complete defeat to the power of the zucchini, I must relate one more true zucchini tale when I kind of conquered the Zucchini Beast.

I was new to the zucchini business, and I let my zucchini fruits grow too large to be used for food dishes. So, I threw the big L-Kabongers over the fence for my Yorkshire mamma sows to enjoy. At first, the old girls loved them with great relish, but before long they even turned up their snouts at the proffered fruit. I guess I overdid the feasting routine even for a pig. And then I happened to mention my zucchini dilemma one day in the teacher’s lounge.

An ingenious, unsuspecting kindergarten teacher thought my large zucchinis would make a wonderful art project for her students. Her pint-sized kindergarteners had a great time making bird houses out of my L-Kabonger zucchinis. But the kids, along with their teacher, had a very difficult time transporting their birdhouses from the classroom onto the school bus to take home to show their parents.

I can still see the little ones struggling to carry their monstrous art projects onto the waiting school bus. Thankfully, some of the bigger kids helped with this loading process. But I did get a note from the bus driver the very next day. He told me to choose smaller zucchinis for next year’s birdhouse activity. I guess he ended up having to personally carry each child’s big birdhouse to their front door. He enjoyed the experience, but it delayed his bus route. Oops!

Zucchini Reflections

Presently, the aroma of freshly baked zucchini bread is emanating from my kitchen. I have eaten only one slice of the delectable stuff, but oh, does it taste good. And as I’m devouring another slice, the thought has crossed my mind that maybe, just maybe, I will win over the power of the Zucchini Beast this year. All I have to do is keep making zucchini bread until the snow flies. Yum.

Jane Green and her husband, Jim, live near Clark. Contact Jane for some public speaking, to order one of her books, or to register your comments. E-mail her at: