Pros: easy to grow, prolific, unusual and fun appearance, disease resistant, tastes great
Cons: hybrid (need to buy seed each year)
I have been growing Zephyr Squash from seed for about ten years. This is a beautiful summer squash that provides abundant harvest and is easy to grow. Let me share some of my gardening success.
Zephyr is a hybrid straightneck summer squash. Its unique identifying characteristic is that 2/3 of the squash is yellow, and the remaining 1/3 is green. The green portion is at the blossom end of the plant. If you look closely, there are faint white stripes running the length of the squash. As with most squash, this one can grow large but it is best picked at about 6-inches. Zephyr is known for its mild nutty flavor. The plants produce medium- to large-size leaves that are open. This plant does not vine.
I live in New England and always give my vegetable seeds a head start by growing them inside under fluorescent lights (starting them mid- to late-April). I save yogurt cups and punch three holes in the bottom of the cups with an awl. I fill the cups with either a seed-starting soil mix, or I combine perlite with a denser soil (the perlite lightens the soil, making it easier for the seeds to germinate). I place the yogurt cups into trays.
When I first began growing this squash, I used to plant two seeds per yogurt cup. However, this plant has an excellent germination rate, and now I only plant one seed per pot. If a plant does not sprout, it is easy enough to poke another seed into the pot or you can directly plant the seed into the ground once it is warm enough.
A few days before I transplant the plants into the vegetable garden, I harden them off. I now have a cold frame that I place the plants into it. Essentially, the cold frame is a box with a hinged Plexiglas lid. I keep the lid propped open during the day so that the plants can acclimate to their new surroundings, and at night close the lid. Before I had the cold frame, I would bring the trays of plants outdoors and leave them on the lawn in semi-shade during the day, and I would bring them in at night.
Once the ground is warm enough, I transplant the plants outdoors, usually the last week in May or the first week in June. Just tap the bottom of the yogurt cup to loosen the soil. I dig a hole, mix fertilizer into the soil and plop the plant in place, watering it afterward.
An extra step I take is to protect the young plants from cut worms. Cut worms will wrap themselves around vulnerable plant stems and chew through them just like felling a tree. Once the plant is "cut", there is no saving it. To give the plants a chance to develop thicker stems that will resist cut worm attack, I place a collar around the plant. What works best for me is to take large plastic drinking cups (such as those manufactured by Solo or Hefty) and cut the cup in half. Cut off the bottom, and you have two collars (each cup half is a collar). Simply take half of the plastic cup and press it into the soil so that the plant stem is in the center. You may need to coax some leaves out of the way during the process. Once the plant is large enough, the plastic cup can be cut away and recycled.
This year I have seven of these plants growing in a row, each plant about two feet apart. I like variety and grow at least four different kinds of squash each year. In case you are wondering, these plants produce fruit pretty much the entire growing season (June through September for me). I also find the plants disease resistant.
Harvest and Good Eating
Zephyr squash is prolific and provides plenty of fruit throughout the growing season. There are so many things I love about this squash. For one thing, it is not unusual to find small squash growing on the plant before it even blossoms! The Zephyr in my garden just produced the first flower blossom, and the squash is already about 1 1/2 inches long. The flower is medium size and a pretty shade of yellow.
Another positive feature is that the leaves and stems sprawl a bit, creating an open plant. This means the fruit is easy to see and harvest. I don't even need a marker to identify this plant since the squash is so distinctive. The yellow and green squash are attractive and easy to identify.
I find it best to pick the squash when they are about 6-inches long. Squash this size is tender, flavorful, easy to handle and prepare. As a rule, I find this squash doesn't produce large seeds unless the squash is picked at a much larger size. The fruit has a mild flavor. I know it's supposed to have a nutty taste, but I never notice it.
The smaller squash are excellent diced into salads. When stir frying, I add a bit of oil to the pan and add some onion and seasoning. If I'm feeling creative, I throw in some other vegetables. Green and red peppers add a colorful touch.
At some point during the summer, a few of the squash inevitably run amok and grow quite large. A great feature of this summer squash is that in a pinch it can be substituted for zucchini in a recipe. The larger squash are easy to grate and use in place of zucchini when baking bread. I have also used them in quiche.
I buy my seeds online and have found this Zephyr Squash at Johnny's Selected Seeds. I buy a packet of 30 seeds for $2.95. I have saved the seed I don't plant and use it the following year with success.
I love growing and eating this Zephyr Squash and plan to purchase it in the future. This is one variety of squash that always finds its way into my garden. Not only is it good to grow and eat, but this squash is decorative. It's fun to see my co-workers faces when I bring these yellow and green squash into work to share. They've come to love them, too!
I hope you found this review useful.
Enjoy your day,
Please read my other reviews:
Zucchini Italiano Largo
Jiffy Square Peat Pots
Upside-Down Tomato Garden
Rubbermaid Big Max Storage Shed
Black and Decker Cordless Rear Bag Mulching Lawnmower
Copyright 2008 Dawn L. Stewart