Saturday, January 17, 2015

Tromboncino Squash Have I Loved

Stored tromboncino squash.  The one at the top left has a little frost damage.

I've never grown any squash in Maryland that didn't have problems with borers, squash bugs, or both.  They are just a fact of life for an organic grower in Maryland.  Squash bugs are nasty little beetles that suck the juices out of your squash leaves and stems.  They're extremely shy (though fairly large), so usually the first time they attack your garden you don't see them until it's far too late.  Borers, on the other hand , burrow into the base of your squash plant just above the soil line, and then crawl up the stem, eating everything in their path so that the rest of the plant usually dies of thrist.  Between the two of them I only got about two weeks' worth of summer squash in 2011, despite hours of hand-picking squash bugs.  That's what first prompted me to try tromboncinos - the catalog said they were a squash-bug-resistant zucchini substitute!  ("Hmmm..." I wondered skeptically.  "Do they just not taste good?") 

They were so lovely and vibrant and productive that first year that I actually thought they hadn't been attacked by borers, until I went to pull up the plant at the end of the year and the stem crumbled in my hand.  See, tromboncino has this lovely habit of putting down good, strong secondary stems about every 8ft.  The borers infest the main stem and they simply get their water from somewhere else.  As for the squash bugs - I guess maybe the tromboncinos don't taste good because I don't see nearly as many squash bugs on them.

As a zucchini substitute, it turns out to be somewhat lacking, IMO.  The flesh is more melon-like than zucchini, and it overcooks easily to turn into green mush on my grill. 

However, tromboncino has other uses.  It purees really well for use in quick breads, and will produce by the basketful in the heat of summer under constant attack.  I planted a 4x20 ft bed mixing these with parsley and probably harvested more than 50 green tromboncinos.  What's more, if you don't pick them in time they are even tastier ripe, and store well as a winter squash.  The ones pictured above are the last of my stored squash from last summer; the little one in the middle is starting to dry out, which prompted me to cook the rest and freeze the meat.  (For comparison, my pumpkins started to go in December under similar conditions.)  Even the seeds were delicious - somewhat brighter than pumpkin seeds, with slightly less meat. 

If you have the space for a boisterous squash in your garden, this one is a great choice.

1 comment:

  1. I thought your chickens would supplement their diet with garden pests.