Growing Patty Pan Squash
A Member of the Squash Family
A friend introduced me to patty pan squash three summers ago. It is a member of the summer squash family and is used in dishes similar to those of it's sisters zucchini and yellow squash. In fact, squash is one of the Three Sisters of crops the native indians used to grow. Corn with a high stalk that beans could grab on to and climb up, and the corn leaves provided shade for the squash grown near the bottom of the corn base.
In my opinion, patty pan squash has the crisp, fresh taste of zucchini with the sweetness of yellow squash and when I first tasted it last summer, I decided to add it to our garden manifest.
These squash can be found at farmer's markets, CSA farms, specialty grocery stores, and in our backyard! Come along, I'll show you what this uniquely shaped fruit is and don't forget to try the recipe at the end of this hub.
A Little History of Squash
Fruit or Vegetable?
The name squash came from the Massachuset Indian "askutasquash" meaning "eaten raw." While we think of eating most any squash cooked, the Indians must have eaten this family of vegetables raw! Patty pan is in the summer squash family which means it is among those squash that are eaten and cooked. The winter squash family is made of up gords, pumpkins, and other rough-skinned squash that sometimes is used for decoration instead of food. I think you would agree the most popular winter squash in America is the pumpkin.
Patty Pan squash is grown mostly in the Western Hemisphere as it needs long hot days to grow. But it's growing cycle is not long. The squash I planted took 45 days from seed in the ground to veggie on the vine. They are planted in a mound with 3-5 seeds in each mound. You can choose to thin them when they emerge or you can keep no more than 3 in each mound as the plants get medium to large in size spreading upright and outward.
Most varieties of squash need to be picked soon after they ripen as the skin hardens quickly or the vegetable grows to an unwieldy size with large seeds inside the plant. This type of summer squash needs only a little bit of cooking and are very good for pickling. Many gourmet chefs use the squash blossom as food or for decoration. It is beautiful!
Seeds To Get Your Started
If you have a backyard garden, chances are you will not use an entire packet of seeds. Just seal the package and put in a container in your freezer to use again in a second growing season or the next year. When stored properly, seeds last for several years with excellent production.
When planting in the ground, always put 3-5 seeds in one mound as they may not all germinate. You can thin after the second or third set of leaves develop.
Uniquely Shaped Vegetable - Looks like a scalloped-edged UFO
A flying saucer? A pat of dough? A new shaped disc for disc golf? None of these! It's patty pan squash, a whimsical name for a delicious vegetable. It isn't tough-skinned like butternut squash, or thin-skinned like zucchini, somewhere in-between. Although when cooked, the skin can (and should!) be eaten with the flesh.
Stages of GrowthClick thumbnail to view full-size
There Is One Main Enemy
The Squash Bug!
Nothing grows without some challenge and this plants main enemy is the squash bug. They will attack your plant with a vengeance and I have yet to find a way to combat them. Every year my garden is lush with green leaves and many squash flowing off the stems when one day I walk out to harvest and bam! The plant is wilted, and looking sea sick due to being infested with squash bugs. If you are diligent, you can find the eggs underneath leaves prior to the infestation. They are found in clusters. Just pick off that chunk of leaf and stamp on it, or burn it, or dispose of it.
Other ways I have tried to combat the bugs are to put foil around the young main stem as squash bugs enter the stem and poinsin the plant in this way. Try a mulch of crushed leaves for extra protection and staving off what may be inevitable. Since our garden is organic we don't use pesticides but have used an organic spraying of Dipel to ward the bugs off.
One of the best shields against any bug infestation is to change your growing area year after year, or rotate your crops. This is the way organic gardeners combat insects. If you move the space you grow one crop in, or rotate them, some bugs will have a harder time finding the plants the following year as bugs live in the soil, go dormant, then reappear seasonally. Think of it as hide and seek and hopefully you can make the seeking difficult!
This year I decided to not grow any squash in the spring so the squash bug can do into their dormant cycle. This is a new experiment as are many things in the world of gardening. I will be planting in the late summer for a fall crop.
Recipe for Patty Pan Squash
This dish can be on your plate minutes after picking it from your garden - the best way to eat any food!
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 10-12 minutes
- 1 patty pan squash
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Wash and dry squash. Using a large knife, cut in half lengthwise. Trim ends so outside of squash will lay flat in pan. Place butter and olive oil in saute pan. Melt and mix together. Add squash halves and saute for 4-5 minutes on first side. Flip over and saute 4-5 minutes on other side. When soft to touch and slightly brown, add a think layer of parmesan cheese on top. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from pan and devour.
My garden hod works just as I had expected it to. I love it!
Garden Hod - Wonderful way to transport and wash your garden harvest
This basket has a sturdy handle to carry, is constructed well, and best of all, the purpose of mesh sides and bottom is so you can rinse off your produce before bringing it into your house. I keep mine in the garden shed for handy use then just bring it back out to the garden after each use.