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Squash Season

By Rick Gush, Urban Farm Contributing Editor

Friday, July 16, 2010

Trombetti squash

Photo by Rick Gush

Trombetti squash are a favorite in Liguria, Italy.

It’s high squash season, now, here in Italy, and all four of the squash types we’re growing this year are growing explosively and making a lot of flowers and fruit. We’re growing Genovese zucchini (which are mostly just a light green zucchini; big pumpkins, which always wow the neighbors; winter squash with the big striped green and yellow fruits, and my favorite, trombetti. 

I know I’m a broken record, but I adore the local squash called trombetti. The fruits are delicious, and the vines are ultra-productive. Trombetti are the dominant squash variety in Liguria and should be grown on an overhead trellis to allow the long fruits to hang.

Italians are particularly squash crazy, even if they don’t grow too many classic pumpkins. In addition to the fruit, Italians eat the flowers of all of the different squashes. The small zucchini with the flowers still attached and fresh are the most appreciated all over Italy, though every region has their local preferred squash types. 

The squash flowers are fried, steamed, dipped in batter and cooked in various sauces. My wife makes a squash flower, soy sauce and soft cheese dish that is to die for. I’m also crazy for the way the flowers look.  The bright-yellow flowers in combination with the green leaves and the orange stamens are quite attractive

Genovese zucchini

Photo by Rick Gush

The Genovese zucchini are prolific in my garden this year.

I’m not sure how much fun eating was in Europe before the new-world vegetables came over. Italy without tomatoes doesn’t seem possible.  And the other new-world crops are fairly impressive too. During my life, whenever I have been in a situation where I didn’t have much or any garden space, I’ve often grown the classic American Stone Age crop mix of corn, beans and squash all planted together in the same hole or pot.  The three seem to grow particularly well together, and there’s that old theory that the amino acid mix of those three includes a balanced mix of all the required proteins for a human diet. My brief guerrilla gardening career included a summer where I started a homeless hardening project in which I helped some street guys grow corn, beans and squash on a piece of land behind a tire store.

I’m particularly happy with the excellent zucchini crop this year. For reasons that I do not understand, I’ve had trouble growing this vegetable for the past five years. Sort of humorous, because zucchini are of probably the world’s easiest vegetables to grow, and I’m supposed to know something about vegetable gardening. 

I sort of enjoy the forced humility of vegetable gardening. It’s like surfing in that one must learn the patience to wait for and enjoy the moment. So, this year is turning out to be a banner year for squash, and we’ll try to enjoy it fully, knowing that it won’t always be like this.

Read more of Digging Italy »

Give us your opinion on Squash Season.
Submit Comment »
Hi David,

Thanks. Too bad. Vine Borer is a discouraging pest, and I'm really happy we don't have it here. I grew squash in Colorado and I needed to pile soft dirt aroung the crowns and nodes to inhibit egg laying in the stem bases. Keeping the soil piled around the crowns was harder than it sounds.
I think we might have squash flowers cooked with and cheese and soy sauce for lunch today. Yummy!
Rick, Rapallo, YT
Posted: 7/20/2010 11:30:07 PM
Nice article. There are many things to comment on. I found it especially interesting that you eat the squash flowers. I have heard that you can eat the flowers but never have tried them myself. Zucchini is difficult to grow here because of the vine bore. Just when they start to produce the bore going up the stem and kills the plant.
David, Omaha, NE
Posted: 7/17/2010 3:36:43 PM

About the Blogger

Rick Gush

Rick Gush
Rick Gush has long been a staunch organic gardener. While a student at the University of California at Davis he worked at local tomato and sugar beet farms and continued in the agricultural and horticultural industries for many years. A career move in the 1990s led him to design computer games, but no matter how much of a techie he’s become, gardening and farming remain his principal passions.

In 2000, Rick moved to Italy, where he writes to you about his cliff garden and other experiences in Italian urban agriculture.

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