Eight Ball Zucchini
Visit the Halfway Homestead to learn more about growing vegetables and gardening.
If you have a small garden patch, you may have passed on growing zucchini because the plants just take up too much space. Read on for some information on a new kind of zucchini that just might suit your needs.
This particular variety of zucchini doesn't vine all over your yard, it stays in a compact little bush. You don't even need a cage or support for it. The leaves grow on sturdy stalks that grow straight up from the middle of the plant. At the center, you will get your zucchini. No more hunting under leaves or following vines to God knows where. The zukes are all clustered in the middle of the plant where you can't miss them.
The quality that makes these zucchini so nifty isn't their bushiness, but the shape of the fruit. They're round. I'm sure you could have guessed that from the name. Now, this may or may not be a nice change for you, it depends on how you like to use your zucchini. You can still chop it up for stir frying, or slice it for raw munchies. But with the round shape, you can also slice it into large rounds and use it for any recipe you might have used with eggplant or you could even try stuffing them like peppers.
The inside of the flesh is crisp and has the same soft, edible seeds that regular zucchini have. They should be picked when they get to be around the size of a softball or the seeds will get harder. That's how big the one in the picture was.
Planting and Growing
The Eight Ball requires the same conditions as any zucchini, just less space. So you'll need a nice sunny spot and about 2 to 3 square feet of space for the fully-grown plant. Keep them well watered, especially when fruit is being set. I planted my seeds in the last week of May (I'm in southern Canada), and picked my first big round zucchini in the first week of August. I'd show a photo of the plant, but the weeds have beaten me this year and I can't get a clear shot.
The Eight Ball is the same as any other zucchini plant, and is susceptible to the same bugs or other pests. I personally have been struggling with striped cucumber beetles (they obviously aren't that particular about eating just cucumber plants). These little green bugs will nibble the leaves away and can destroy your plants. You can pick them off yourself, or use an organic insecticidal soap. Check the product label to make sure it's safe for use with vegetables to be eaten. You'll need to reapply after a rain, but it works pretty well.
Where Do You Get Them?