This week I’ve been expressing deep gratitude for acquiring a small amount of garden discipline. Specifically, I’m referring to zucchini. I only grew one plant this year!! I wasn’t always so smart… as I was ruminating aloud about what I should write today, a thought came blasting out from The Universe and into my headbone… “clarity.” “Clarity??” I replied with a puzzled tone. I really needed some clarity, because my brain is kaputt after driving from Green Bay, Wisconsin through Chicago and then home from our vacation trip. Dunno about you, but when I drive through Chicago and its many suburbs my brain becomes rather mooshy after it’s all done. So here I am, home safe and sound, but still looking to send my friends a smile on a Friday night, and as I continue this run-on sentence I was wondering what the HECK I’m gonna right with my mushbrain; but then I figured no worries, I can dig into the archives maybe and pull out a gem. Finally I had a memory of a story I wrote many moons ago. So here it is in black and white, my reminder to always maintain the clarity NOT to go nuts with zucchini ever again. Without further ado, here’s
The Great Zucchini Invasion of 1997
The story you are about to read is true. Nothing in what follows has been exaggerated in any way, and if you believe that I have some prime real estate underneath the Mackinac Bridge that I’d like to sell you for a true bargain. Run for your lives!!! Giant squashes have invaded, and it’s all my fault. I never meant any harm, I just wanted a few zucchini for salads. Maybe a few others, sauteed with onions for a nice batch of Chicken Cockamamie. Thinking the success of one plant might be marginal, I planted… well… more. OK, I planted six.
WHAT WAS I THINKING???
Any idea what it means to have six healthy zucchini plants in your garden?? We have many tons of biomass out there!! Not only are they making lots, they are making very, Very BIG.
It was sort of intriguing, even gratifying at first. I spent lots of time making the soil right, laying out the garden in rows and beds. Then I stuck the seeds in the dirt and covered them up nice. Prayed for rain, or used some artificial rain if Mother Nature wouldn’t bring any. Pretty soon, the weeds and crops competed for space, but all the squash plants were very visible above any wimpy weed seedlings.
For those of you who don’t know, successfully raising a vegetable garden like ours (about 30′ by 50′) takes constant effort if you want good harvests. It’s very rewarding, but if you’re not on your toes the weeds will flourish like there’s no tomorrow. A few moments of inspection and pointing at seedlings with pride are often followed by comments like, “boy, we’re gonna get a nice garden this year.” Then I’d go back in the house for an evening, and the next day I couldn’t tell the radishes from the ragweed. So I picked, and pulled, and yanked, and hoed, and then the crops were visible again. This particular year, squash were flourishing with leaves that were popping out like crazy. So amazed was I by their progress, I started a Garden Diary, which will fill the rest of this column. I felt compelled to share some excerpts from it as my way of warning what could be in store for YOU if you decide to grow zucchini. Be aware that this was written in the gardener’s own words (mine), and some of the language may become, well, “colorful.”
Ok, here we go…
Ain’t no way the corn is gonna be knee high today. The radishes are great, but I shouldn’t have planted so darn many. BURP!! Excuse me!! Zucchini is well on its way, got some tiny ones already… won’t be long (yumm)!
Our first baby zucchinis were delicious!! Left a few behind for next weekend. Ate some more radishes, and pitched a mess in the compost. Only 3,089 more of those little red boogers left… Corn not doing so good, tomato plants are finally getting big though. Okra coming up!
Very strange… the zucchini made more squash when I wasn’t looking. Could have sworn there were only five yesterday. Oh well, we’ll have some for salads! Swiss chard doing good, the corn… well, they have corn at the farmer’s market, right?
What the Flip is in this soil?? Them zucchini are blastin’!! I counted 34 little ones, and those I left on the plant just a couple days are over a foot long! I picked most of them, only see seven squash left. Kathy says we should have planted corn. I told her that was very funny. Might get an ear or two… Maybe I can trade radishes for corn…
I KNOW I counted seven squash the other day… Now we have eleven: four baby zucchinis, and the seven from before are running 8 pounds each. We’ll grate the big ones for bread I suppose. Getting some tomatoes finally… marble sized so far, but I have hope. The okra is getting bigger, nice hot weather is really making… wait! MORE ZUCCHINI!! OK, OK, no problem; we’ll chop them up and have salad tonight.
I’m getting sick up and fed with these doggone zucchini, the flaming plants are makin’ zucchini like there’s some stupid shortage or something. Sure, stupid me, I left some little ones yesterday. Not little anymore, right?? Two feet long, five inches across. What the heck do you do with all this stupid squash?? I wish Kathy and the kids would quit asking how the garden is doing!
Went to the army surplus store and bought me a camouflage outfit today. Took the seats out of the van and loaded it up with zucchini. Tonight, at 0130 hours, I’ll make a few covert deliveries. HA HA, neighbors!! You are NOT safe from my squash drops!
Ok, I surrender. A semi-truck is here to pick up that one zucchini I forgot about in the back of the corn row. So what if the corn only got a few feet high… it was enough to hide the biggest zucchini monster of all time. The lift truck has already dug a few nice ruts in my lawn to get this stupid squash loaded up on the truck. I hate this world.
The end of the squash is at hand. I heard on the radio that some kakahead made up a holiday. He calls it, “Sneak A Zucchini On Your Neighbor’s Porch Day.” Where was this dirtball when I needed him, I ask you?? I would gladly have become the Zucchini Bunny or something. Well, it’s come to this: it’s either them or me. I’m thinking of getting a shotgun to blow those stupid plants to kingdom come. Then I’m gonna change the oil and belts on the lawn tractor and mow the stinkin’ garden. If Kathy wants corn she can go buy some! This is making me crazy! Listen… what’s that SMELL?? Do you see that clicking noise?? I gotta get something from somewhere and find out what the heck it is!! I’m itching all over, I have a rash on my belly. I’m so mad, my speech not say right what I mean can’t talk! Not write good, even!
The rest of the diary is illegible, so I won’t bother you any further by trying to decipher it. I’m doing better now, here in this nice “health resort.” The staff is very courteous, and they’ve worked very hard to keep me from destroying the garden in the courtyard. You can bet your life I won’t have another zucchini crisis again.
I wonder if you can grow just half a plant… ?
Could that qualify as a Fresh Vegetable Mystery?