I have four vigorous zucchini plants. Why four? Because in winter with a lap full of comforter and gardening catalogs, the January eye peers back at July’s garden and the plants are smaller, the harvest never enough. What if something happens to one spindly seedling? Then there would be no zucchini, and summer without it just wouldn’t be the same. So four tiny sprouts went into the ground and four large plants are what I have. The zucchini harvest began several weeks ago. My daughter and I have happily eaten sauteed zucchini, seared zucchini, broiled zucchini and have even made sun-dried zucchini chips. It has been too hot to make Rosemary Zucchini Soup (see my recipe section). Zucchini bread uses far too little zucchini for the amount of calories it contains. The problem with zucchini recipes is that they use far too little zucchini! Zucchini has many health benefits, and is low-calorie, versitile, and is the butt of many summer-harvest jokes. I say this while considering who I know that I might unload some of the harvest upon.
We’ve both been harvesting under the enormous leaves this year’s zucchini plants have produced, and have kept up with it with few surprises. Until today.
In summer the days can run into each other with a speed that is breathtaking. We’d gone two days without checking. Then this morning after a second morning of trying to teach our old dog General the new trick of not hunting the chickens, which we were allowing out of their coop, we were on our way back to the house. It was hot already, the morning mist having burned off as if with an acetyline torch. My daughter carried strawberries in her hat and I was headed up to water stressed plants stranded without irrigation. Then I caught a glimpse of something along the edge of the raised bed. It was green. It was wedged against the corner and pressing against the edge of the wooden end. It was trying to break free. Trembling and exchanging fearsome glances with my daughter, I lifted a spiny leaf: There lay a six-pound zucchini.
This might not impress you. Perhaps you’ve recklessly gone on a summer vacation and forgot to mention to your neighbors that they should keep a cool eye on the big plant in the veg bed, and returned to find a green Moby Dick sucking up all the water in the garden. Perhaps you know already that the world’s record zucchini weighed 65 pounds. The world’s longest was 69.5 inches long, which is 6 and a half inches taller than I. Yet to find a six pounder trying to break down my much-cherished raised bed was something of a shock, especially when there was only a two-day gap between checking. This zucchini is only slightly less weight than my daughter at birth. Yet, I feel strangely deprived of maternal instincts toward it.
How luxurious it is to complain about too much food. I’ll make steaks out of this big one, and perhaps donate the smaller ones to the Fallbrook Food Pantry. And begin to harvest the squash blossoms more vigorously!