Thursday, August 2, 2012

zucchini apocalypse

Forget about a Zombie Apocalypse. I think we are in more danger of zucchini taking over the world. So if you are one of those gardeners who habitually plants too much zucchini: STOP!

While zucchini is good for you and astonishingly easy to grow, and while there are thousands of recipes to help you use up your overzealous crop, even the most health-conscious, zucchini-eating, faux-apple-pie-baking folk around get sick of zucchini. So here are my simple steps to avoid a Zucchini Apocalypse:

Step 1: Plant less. It's simple math: one zucchini seed + sunshine + soil + water = a bazillion zucchini. Or at least enough to feed a family of four, freeze some for winter and share a few with your friends. So just plant one plant. Or, if you are a pessimist like me, plant two, three, or even four seeds (just in case) but thin them as they come up and start to thrive.

I know it's hard, but you can do it; I did. Here is my garden. There is only one zucchini plant growing in this mess and we have had plenty of zucchini for several weeks in a row.

Step 2: Harvest them young. The longer you let them grow, the bigger they get, but bigger zucchini is not better zucchini; it's just more zucchini. I like to pick mine when they are about 8-10 inches long, or about the length of a butter-knife. They are perfect for roasting, grilling, sauteing or baking. If you miss picking one for a day or two, the big ones (below-left) are great for shredding and freezing. I freeze mine in regular, sandwich-sized zip-lock bags and use them to make zucchini bread in the winter. Here is my favorite zucchini bread recipe, although I usually omit the orange zest (because I never have it) and add a little coconut.

Step 3: Compost the excess. There is no need to push unwanted zucchini on family, friends or neighbors; no need to break into a person's car, as the legend goes, or bring baskets full of zucchini to give away at church. Chances are, if you have a spectacular zucchini crop, so does everyone else. So toss your extra, unwanted zucchini straight into the compost pile. Think of it as super cheap fertilizer for next year. :)