This weekend my healthy and fat zucchini plant delivered a miraculous surprise – my very first squash. Now, this may not be miraculous to everyone, and to many gardeners this is old hat, and some have been swimming in zucchini every summer longer than I’ve been alive, but to me it was nothing short of wondrous. I grew a really neat squash called the eight-ball squash, and it was waiting for me like a cool pool ball just as the name promised.
After so many trials of weather and well, mainly weather this year, I think I’ve given up hope of seeing anything actually harvested from the garden. Deep in my mind I’m convinced that I’ll see nothing but pretty greenery this year, and I can chalk up this crazy season to a cool learning experience. Next year I’ll have a much better idea of what to plant, how much to plant, what’s worth planting and so on. But in the meantime, when I saw a round firm dark ball lying on the ground beside the zucchini, at first I thought it was a neighbors’ kids’ toy. My shock when I realized that this is a grown squash could not be underestimated.
Triumphantly I carried the prize home, grinning like a cat who’d made it into the fish tank, and reflected on the fact that this will be the single freshest thing I will have eaten this year.
My rules for determining whether something is ‘worth’ growing again are quite simple. Is the difference from store bought to fresh out of the dirt significant enough to justify garden space, my main limiting factor? I kind of suspect a resounding yes! when it comes to tomatoes and carrots, but I’ve definitely removed radishes from the running. Yes they are super easy to grow, and need very little care, but given the fact that I couldn’t really taste the difference from regular radishes to the ones at the local Sobey’s, well, I may simply donate the extra room to things I really love.
Zucchini is not known for having oodles of flavor, it’s a rather bland vegetable, and I was very curious to see whether there would be any discernible difference between the organic zucchini at the store and the magic eight-ball in my yard. I washed it and sliced it, and took a bite. There was definitely a difference. It was not huge, not orders of magnitude huge like with tomatoes off the vine and the cardboard balls at the store. But it was noticeable and memorable. The squash was very tender, and moist as can be. The flesh was slightly sweet, something I imagine it loses in storage, and it has a super fresh green taste that tasted alive. This zucchini has just earned itself a permanent space in my subsequent gardens.
I ate about a quarter of it raw, marveling at the taste, then practicing uncommon self-discipline, I sautéed the rest and served it over sliced steak. It was magic.
For those interested, here is the link to the seeds.