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Hello, gardening friends! Charleston is an amazing place to set roots. We are fortunate to have a long growing season with generally mild winters. We even have the opportunity of a second spring planting in the fall. The ability to know how and when your produce was grown is of great benefit, and the time of harvest can have a huge impact on the flavor and texture of produce. Many of our local chefs and farmers take full advantage of this culinary opportunity, serving fresh “farm to table” cuisine. Good agricultural practices are key for a healthy environment and healthy people!
The idea of “farm to table” can be taken home, too. Whether you have a small patio, urban garden, or an acre of land, you can grow—I like to use the term “Front Yard to Table.” Herbs and vegetables can be as beautiful in the landscape as an annual or perennial. In this blog I will share my tips and tricks to successful gardening and highlight cool garden projects. Comments and questions are always welcome and recipes are encouraged.
Let’s get growing!
So often when we plant squash we have a battle with powdery mildew and raise our fists at the squash borers. One can wonder—is it worth it? Well this variety is definitely worth the effort. This squash is one of my favorites. It’s called Zucchetta Tromboncino (Tromba d’Albenga). This is an Italian heirloom variety of summer squash that has great benefits all year long—winter, spring, summer, or fall.
The plant has performed exceptionally well in my garden—it has produced a large quantity of veggies and provided great visual entertainment. It’s a fast grower with strong tendrils and loves a good trellis with plenty of room to grow. It can take over some serious garden real estate, so a vertical surface can help save space. The squash itself is fun to watch grow, too. Many of the squash can reach three feet in length and when trellised, the vegetable will develop a bulb shape on the end (where the seeds are located).
This variety of squash can be eaten green and harvested at any length. The smaller the size, the more tender and flavorful the squash. If left on the vine for full maturity, the skin will thicken and turn a pale yellow. At this point, the squash can be stored whole and used as a winter squash.
(small green squash)
Tromboncino squash has a firmer texture which makes it great in soups, stir-fry, and ravioli filling. It has a nutty taste and the ability to absorb additional flavors. The blooms are larger in size and excellent for stuffing or sautéing, for example, I've enjoyed stuffing mine with herbed goat cheese (see below for recipe). The squash plant is monoecious, meaning that is has both male and female blossoms on one plant. The female blossom is the one that will become the squash after pollination. The male bloom is the one that is ideal for harvesting. But be certain to leave a few blooms behind so as not to interfere with your squash production. You may be asking yourself, "How do I tell the difference between male and female blossoms?" Look under the blossom toward the base of the bloom where it attaches to the stem. If there is a swollen area, it's a female bloom. If the stem is straight, it's a male.
- It prefers warm temps (the soil temperature should be above 60 degrees at the four-
- Do not plant this crop until the last chance of frost has passed.
- Use raised rows or hills to plant—it loves well-draining soil.
- Definitely go vertical—this squash loves a fence or arbor (space saving tip!).
- One to two squash plants should produce enough to feed two individuals.
- When harvesting for storage, this squash does well both frozen or dried.
- My favorite gardening resource for trouble shooting or just for learning more can be
found at hgic.clemson.edu. This is an amazing resource—check it out!
Harvest Recipe: Squash Blossom with Herbed Goat Cheese Saute—this a simple yet delicate summer treat. Wonderful on a fresh green salad.
3 small bowls
1 large sauté pan
8 oz. fresh goat cheese
2 tablespoons minced shallots
dash of salt and pepper
1/3 cup fresh herbs from garden (basil, thyme, chives, tarragon, etc.)
12 fresh partially closed squash blossoms
(blooms will be twisted shut)
1/2 cup flour
1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 cup of canola oil to sauté
Mix fresh goat cheese, shallots, salt, pepper and herbs from garden to taste. Divide herbed goat cheese into 12 equal teaspoon size balls. Gently cut a slit into side of squash blossoms, leaving stem intact. Spoon herbed goat cheese into squash blossom and carefully twist shut. Fill each bowl separately: one with flour, one with egg, one with panko. Coat each blossom with flour, then egg, followed by panko.
Add oil to pan on medium high heat. (Should sizzle). Place blossoms in pan, gently rotate until all sides are golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes depending on flame. Remove from pan, place on paper towel. Serve and enjoy!
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