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Posts Tagged ‘zucchetta rampicante’

The attractive foliage and large bright flowers of the zucchetta adds interest in the vegetable garden.What an interesting vegetable to add to your garden – if you have the room!

The zucchetta fruits are long and thin with seeds only in the bulbous blossom end.

The zucchetta fruits are long and thin with seeds only in the bulbous blossom end. They grow straighter when the vines are trained to a trellis.

We grew this Italian heirloom climbing squash once many years ago. It performed quite well and produced a reasonable number of very long thin-necked squash, one of which was left on the vine and grew almost 4 feet long! I wish I could find the picture of that one. We grew them on a strong 6×6 foot trellis and the vines easily grew to the top and over.

The squash themselves are mostly “neck” with a small bulbous end that contains the seeds. The long, thin neck is solid flesh which we sliced fairly thin and sautéed like zucchini.

This year we again included zucchetta in our repertoire of garden vegetables. Our garden is much larger now than it was back then but we are still growing them on a trellis because they are such great climbers and it saves space in the garden. Growing them on a trellis also seems to keep the fruit growing straighter and not as twisted.

Our zucchetta plants share a double trellis with my cucumbers and at this point have sort of exploded over the top and beyond. Eric has had to get creative to provide more climbing space for them!

In an attempt to keep them from invading my cucumbers, Eric added a pole and cross piece for the aggressive vines to climb over.

In an attempt to keep them from invading my cucumbers, Eric added a pole and a cross piece attached to the trellis for the aggressive vines to climb over.

The vines are very robust with large leaves and giant golden blooms. The foliage is quite attractive with an interesting pattern of silvery white variegation along the leaf veins and this combined with the large flowers gives the whole plant an exotic, almost tropical look.

So far we have harvested 6 or 7 squash and there are many more on the way. Eric has tried to pick them while they are still “small” – only about 18″ to 24″ long with the neck less than 2″ in diameter. I have read that they can be harvested at any stage in their development but that they have the best flavor when they are young and about this size.

The flesh in the neck is firm and seedless. When cooked, it has a texture more like that of a winter squash because it isn’t at all watery but rather dense. The flavor is very nice. It doesn’t have what I would call a strong “squash” taste – it’s a little more subtle with a nutty flavor. I am curious to leave a few on the vine to mature so we can try it as a winter squash.

The squash is prolific but not quite as "bounteous" as zucchini can be.

The squash is prolific but not quite as "bounteous" as zucchini can be.

We have also discovered another major advantage to growing this variety of squash – bugs don’t seem to like it! In addition to our zucchetta, we are growing regular zucchini and yellow straight neck summer squash. Right now, most of these squash plants are on their way out – victims of the dreaded squash vine borer. I usually lose one or two squash plants to these pests each year but this year, they have devastated all my plants. The zucchetta seems to be resistant to squash vine borers – perhaps the stem is too tough for the young larvae to bore through.

I haven’t seen any other insects on the vines either, not even squash bugs. This in a year where there has been a population explosion of bean beetles in both our traditional vegetable garden and our Three Sisters Garden. Not only have these pests skeletonized the bush beans but they have also moved into the pole beans which, in my experience, are normally fairly resistant to bean beetles. But that’s a whole other story …

It looks like we will still have plenty of squash to fill our dinner plates this August; it just won’t be zucchini or yellow summer squash from here on out. But that’s okay, the monster zucchetta squash, will more than fill the void! Yum!

Until next time – Happy gardening!

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