Call me a Rebel--spaghetti squash / zucchini crosses

I saw earlier someone mention that they had a spaghetti squash / zucchini cross that they really liked, despite having been advised that one “shouldn’t” cross spaghetti squash with zucchinis.

Well, I second the motion that a spaghetti zucchini cross can be good! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Last year, I planted Black Beauty zucchinis, spaghetti squash, and pattypan squash. I saved seeds from the spaghetti squashes and planted them this year to see what I’d get.

Most of what I got was bush, dark-skinned zucchinis that were quite a bit fatter than normal, and just as productive as the Black Beauty zucchinis last year – which meant I essentially got twice as much food from the same number of plants.

When small, the fruits were delicious. They tasted like zucchini, but with a rich, creamy undertone. Some had spaghetti-like strings and some didn’t; I found I preferred the ones with spaghetti-like strings.

Harvested small, the fruits had a thin rind, like zucchini. If I let them get over a foot long, they grew really thick rinds, like spaghetti squash. I initially thought that was a downside, since I tend to let my zucchinis grow big before harvesting them – but then I had a brainwave. Rather than treating them like zucchini, maybe I should try treating them like spaghetti squash.

Bingo! They cooked exactly like spaghetti squash and worked in exactly the same way. This after only one week of growing, instead of waiting a whole season for mature winter squash.

Not only that, but because the fruits were twice the size I’d been expecting, I wasn’t able to eat them all as soon as they came in, so the extras started piling up. I was eating them first in first out, but I still had such a backlog that some were sitting on a shelf for one week . . . two . . . three . . . four . . .

And wait, no sign of rotting! The oldest ones I was eating looked and tasted just like they had just been harvested that day!

So I decided to perform an experiment. (Which surely had nothing to do with laziness on my part.) I went two weeks without picking any squashes, and then went out and harvested thirteen two-foot-long hippos with extremely thick rinds from the plants. I stuck them in my closet, figuring I’d see how long they could sit there and still be good.

They’ve been there for eight weeks now. Still no signs of rotting. The rinds are still as hard as a rock. And they were only on the plants for two weeks.

They’re behaving like fully mature spaghetti squash, even though they look like fat zucchinis! O_O

(My spaghetti squashes that I harvested seeds from were eaten eight months after harvesting them, by the way. I’ve heard that pepos only have a few weeks of shelf life. Well, nobody told my spaghetti squashes that!)

Overall, I really like that phenotype, and I’m planning to see if any of the ones that are still aging in my closet manage to age any seeds to viability. Because why not? If they don’t, I still have plenty of seeds from last year, so I can always just plant those.

Meanwhile, I got some other phenotypes, too: three vining spaghettis, one vining pattypan, and one vining squash that was really intriguing. I think it must have been a spaghetti pattypan cross, though I it may have crossed with some unknown pepo from one of my neighbors. The fruits were about a foot long, and very, very dark yellow, almost orange at maturity.

I found that phenotype so interesting that I decided to let that plant grow its first two fruits to maturity, so that I could save seeds from them. I figured that would mean getting no (or very few) other squash from it. But to my surprise, it set a total of ten fruit! (Two of them I harvested as summer squash. Eight, I let grow to maturity.) This despite the fact that the vine was no larger than normal, and half of its leaves were in partial shade, thanks to neighboring zucchinis. That plant has earned getting its seeds saved!

Meanwhile, my next-door neighbor told me I couldn’t save seeds from any of my squashes because they wouldn’t be true to type . . . laugh I thought, “That’s the whole point!”

4 Likes

Julia D
I love this!! You and Lauren Ritz definitely caused me to revise my thinking on these crosses with spaghetti squash, and I just deleted that sentence out of the squash lesson :slight_smile: I had some spaghetti squash volunteers near the zucchinis by accident, so I will be paying extra attention to the potential spaghetti squash crosses next year. (They will be zucchini/yellow crookneck/some spaghetti). The part about eating like a spaghetti squash after only one week sounds pretty revolutionary. I don’t like spaghetti squash, so that part is wasted on me, but for someone who does it might be cool to develop this trait in more gardens!

Emily S
Hee hee hee, I’m glad to have contributed to a shift in mindset! Some of this might very well be because of hybrid vigor. If the established wisdom is that spaghetti squash shouldn’t be crossed with zucchini, they might have very different genes by now, which might make for a cross with great genetic diversity. I also wonder if I had especially good spaghetti squash genes. The spaghetti squashes I grew last year were twice the size of the ones in grocery stores, much darker yellow, had a much better flavor, much thicker rinds, and a much longer shelf life. Oh, and much more pronounced strings. The biggest one was the size of a large watermelon. It was huge! That was the one I saved most of my seeds from. The three plants with the vining spaghetti squash phenotype this year grew only one fruit each, and the fruits were slightly smaller than grocery store size (still very dark yellow, still very thick rinds). I initially thought that was bad, and was planning to not save seeds from them, but then I remembered that I’d left those three spaghetti squash plants in full shade for the entire growing season, and they all survived and produced a mature fruit. That’s probably really good! I mean, I gave them no dedicated garden space; I just let them struggle to survive under the giant spaghetti zucchinis. I think I’m sold on the idea of vining squash that can survive and do okay in full shade under bush squash, in a way overcrowded bed. As far as the spaghetti zucchinis working just like spaghetti squash after only a week or two on the plant – I know, right?! I’ve harvested 92 spaghetti zucchinis from five plants this year (yes, I’ve kept count), half of them small and used like zucchinis, and half of them big and either used like spaghetti squash or stored on a shelf to use for that purpose later. That seems neat! Next year, I think I’ll work on training them for drought tolerance. Lauren said something somewhere about being able to growing squashes and melons under a deep mulch with no irrigation, in Utah. I live in Utah too, and I’m trying to be very careful with water use. So I went, “Ooooh!” If she can do it, I figure I can, too. :smiley:

Lauren Ritz
Yep. Right alongside the street did best. Mulch 6 inches deep, approximately, but as the soil improves by mulch breaking down they seemed to need less. I planted pumpkins, watermelons (they LOVED it there), tomatoes, sorghum, and in 2021 I did zucchini. In another area, watered once or twice a month, the same strain produced in flushes, 5-8 zucchini at a time, each time the plant was watered. The zucchini were very small and ripened very quickly, as if they knew they had limited time. My soil was almost straight sand, so take that into consideration. This is a variety that has been grown in my family since the 70’s. It has a soft skin until it’s more than a foot long. Zucchini are bred for quick growth, so it makes sense that they would mature more quickly as well. By the time my zucchini are 18 inches long they have seeds developing, although I usually leave them on the vine much longer if I want a true seed harvest.

Emily S
Ooooh. Yeah, I can see that – I bet they got some extra water every rainfall from the runoff. I’ve noticed that the plants in my lawn (which I don’t water) die in the middle, but they do quite well right around the edges near the sidewalks. I think it’s because they get extra water every rainfall, thanks to runoff. That sounds like an awesome variety, especially since it’s been saved by your family for so long. That’s really cool. I wonder if it would be able to go without irrigation entirely in my soil, which is sandy loam. Do you have any spare seeds? (Apparently my neighborhood used to be some of the best farmland in Utah. Why did they put houses and cement on it?!?! Oh, well. At least most people in the neighborhood are growing gardens and/or fruit trees, so it’s not like this excellent-soil-for-a-desert is completely going to waste.)

William S
I save seed of random grocery store spaghetti squash and occasional home-grown ones. Haven’t grown any out in a few years. My wife likes it for her spaghetti. Your crosses are not terribly different from many other pepo crosses including my own pepo grex. There are older varieties like Long Pie Long Pie Pumpkin - Arca del Gusto - Slow Food Foundation Which is essentially an old-fashioned marrow which means it is both a zucchini and a winter squash. Though literally all squash can be eaten as summer squash as well as winter. A few years ago Joseph experimented one fall with using his seed crop zucchinis as marrows as well. Long Pie has a local history it was preserved for a time by Garden City Seeds in Missoula MT and so the Triple Divide Seed Co-op our modern Montana seed company has revived it but I still haven’t bit the bullet on obtaining a packet. If I did it would probably eventually make its way into my pepo grex if I liked it.

Lauren R
I wasn’t able to grow any to maturity this year. They got weed whacked, except for one that got squash bugged. : ) But next year I have three acres to play with! The first generation of my spaghetti-pumpkin-zucchini cross had one pumpetti and one zucchetti survive. The spaghetti squash got squash bugged. Each got one squash, and the zucchetti was half round and half long. 2nd generation I got a zucchetti that continued to produce all summer, even after squash started to ripen! I got 12 ripe zucchetti (most of which kept until last May) and quite a few that I used like zucchini. All off of one plant. The cross of spaghetti squash and zucchini seems to be exceptionally productive. It also seemed to be immune to squash bugs, although that might just be because it was started earlier. Spaghetti squash and pumpkin (pumpetti) doesn’t seem to be so productive, but the squashes are still long keepers, and I love the taste of both.

Julia D
I’m going to try the long pie pumpkin next year. I think it’s Shao Sanchez
working on breeding for flavor, should check this one out. In the process I noticed another multipurpose hulless variety, though a hybrid https://www.highmowingseeds.com/organic-non-gmo-pie-pita-f1-hulless-pumpkin.html

Here’s another interesting hulless pepo that might be worth a try?
https://www.rareseeds.com/sweetnut-squash. From Skot’s spreadsheet…

Emily S
This year, I added Early Prolific Straightneck and tatume squash to the landrace. My evaluation of those two: - Early Prolific Straightneck: I’m never growing this variety again. Four of the five had garbage genes, and I pulled them out by halfway through the growing season. Two of the five didn’t produce a single female flower – all males. Garbage. Two more did produce fruit, but the fruits all got gobbled up by bugs or blossom end rot before I could harvest them. Garbage. The fifth and last was healthy and very productive, so I let it stay until the end of the season. However, all five had the most vicious, nasty thorns I’ve ever seen on squash plants. I will not save any seeds from those plants. Since they probably contributed pollen to my landrace (grump), I plan to rip out anything with nasty thorns before it can flower. The thorns were very noticeable on all of the Early Prolific Straightnecks long before they started to flower, and apparently they’re a dominant trait (oh joy), so it should be easy to notice those and rogue them. - Tatume squash: I planted two seeds; one lived. That one was in the middle of the bed, completely shaded out by the spaghetti zucchinis. It booked it for the side of the bed, found its way up the fence, and grew a nice round fruit. Since it was the only fruit on the plant at the time, and I was curious about what it tasted like as a winter squash, I decided to leave it. It turned into a medium-sized orange pumpkin, and then the vine started setting a few more fruit with two weeks to go before frost. Yay! It grew four pretty big, round immature squash, and I’ve harvested one to eat it. Delicious. Even better summer squash than zucchini. Even if the winter squash isn’t tasty, I’ll save seeds from it; if the winter squash is tasty (and I’ve read that tatume tastes good as both summer and winter squash), I’ll probably plant a whole bunch of them next year. - Oh, and at the last minute, I also decided to grow a Butterstick zucchini. I planted it with only six weeks to go until frost, figuring it probably wouldn’t produce any fruit, but I could evaluate it for thorns to decide if I wanted to grow it next year. To my surprise, not only are the thorns the smallest I’ve seen (yay!), it started producing fruit after only four weeks, and it’s been chugging along merrily ever since. It turned out to be parthenocarpic, but not gynoecious – three-quarters of its flowers are female, and they all turn into fruit, and there are plenty of male flowers at the bottom. So I assume it’s fertile. Because I planted it so late, its genes won’t be in any of the squashes I save seeds from this year, but I may plant it next year and let it contribute to the landrace. However, there’s a wrinkle: the flavor of the fruit is only okay. Not nearly as good as the others. I’ll probably plant one, but I’ll probably also plant some other parthenocarpic zucchinis, and if any of those taste better and have similar great traits, I’ll pull out the Butterstick and let the others put parthenocarpy in my landrace. Here are my plans for next year: - Seeds from my spaghetti zucchini cross in 2021. - Seeds from some of my spaghetti zucchinis in 2022, if any of them turn out to have made viable seeds. - Seeds from all the other phenotypes except for the Early Prolific Straightnecks, which are not welcome in my landrace ever again, and the Butterstick, which won’t have any viable seeds. - At least one variety of parthenocarpic zucchini. I like that trait. - I’m going to introduce a thornless powdery mildew resistant zucchini. I want both of those traits in my landrace. - I’m also going to introduce a thornless yellow zucchini. I feel very strongly about wanting to reinforce thornlessness. I’m sick of getting scratched by zucchini thorns. The reason I want parthenocarpy (and powdery mildew resistance) is for late in the growing season. Sometime in mid-August, my squashes start getting powdery mildew, and sometime in mid-September, the female flowers start dying instead of growing into more summer squash, because it’s too cold for pollinators. I figure if I get both of those traits in my landrace, it won’t hurt seed production (the bees love my squash flowers early in the season – everything gets pollinated), and it will extend the growing season by a whole extra month. Not only that, if I stick an unheated greenhouse on top of a parthenocarpic squash, I can probably extend the growing season by a whole extra month after the first frost (which is October 15 here). I’m testing that out right now – we’ve had two frosts in two days, and the Butterstick zucchini with a DIY greenhouse plopped over it is doing beautifully and still fruiting prolifically, while all the other squash plants have keeled over and are breathing their last gasps. So I’m hopeful this will work. I figure if I only use a greenhouse to extend the growing season at the very end, after harvesting any winter squash on the plant, that won’t have any negative consequences to the genetics of my landrace – their descendants won’t even know I have plastic! :wink:

Julia D
There are some really cool pepo’s on this page https://www.rareseeds.com/store/vegetables/summer-squash, --Odessa caught my eye because mature it looks like a moschata, but also I’am going to add the Mangogo (normally eaten immature abut good for pies also) to my pepo grex for next year :slight_smile: Mangogo a looks like the summer squashes in the Oaxaca markets. I’m even more excited about the super diverse pepo grexes in our futures now!

Emily S
Mongogo looks really similar to the tatume squash I enjoyed this year. Same shape, same color, same growth habit, and it’s described as having a delicious flavor. I’ve also heard tatume called “Mexican squash,” so I bet the two varieties are very closely related, perhaps even the same thing. Yeah, I’m sure that’ll be a good one to try! Desi catches my eye. Small bush plants, the fastest to fruit, and productive yummy squash sounds really good.

I’m thinking what I’m going to be selecting for in future is: - Delicious unripe. - Delicious ripe. (I can’t decide which one matters more. I think they matter equally. Happily, I’ve noticed there’s a strong correlation.) - Thornlessness. (That really does matter to me.) - Smooth rinds that are easy to cut. Thick and thin are both okay. - Drought tolerance. - High productivity. I think in that order. Bonuses I want, if I can get them: - Powdery mildew resistant. - Parthenocarpic, so I’ll still get fruit when it’s late in the season and the pollinators aren’t as active as they were earlier. - Bush habit. And a wide variety of colors, shapes, and flavors that are all delicious would be great. A variety of textures would be fine with me, too. And a variety of rind thicknesses. I like the bumpiness of spaghetti squash strings. I find it pleasurable to eat. I don’t like the spiderweb-like mess of very thin, tangled, clumpy strings that some squashes have. That’s unpleasant. I’ll select against that. Either no strings or very thick and smooth strings are both great. Likewise, very thin rinds are great for eating the rinds, and very thick rinds are great for shelf life. I like them both for different reasons, and will probably not select against either of them. If I have to choose between them, I will probably favor the thick rinds, because shelf life is awesome. I really liked this year’s spaghetti zucchini for having thin, soft rinds while young and hard, thick rinds while older. That seems like the best of both worlds. I will definitely select against warty tough rinds. Like in Yellow Crookneck and Early Prolific Straightneck. I intensely dislike that kind of rind. It’s a pain in the neck to deal with, and I don’t find the bumps pleasant to touch, either. Only smooth rinds for me!

Yessssssssss!
I’ve posted before about my spaghetti zucchini cross. Well, last night I decided to open up one of the ones I’ve been storing for twelve weeks.

For context, I harvested it after only two weeks on the plant. This was in the middle of the heat of the summer, so squash fruits were growing quickly.

It’s been sitting in my closet for about three months now, along with twelve others. They’re all still hard as a rock, with very thick rinds, and with no signs of rotting. The rinds have started turning from green to either dark yellow or orange. My hope was that they were maturing into marrows off the plant. Today, I decided to try one and find out.

I chose one that was almost entirely orange, instead of the dark green it was when I harvested it. It’s long like a zucchini, but fatter than is usual for zucchinis.

I opened it up. The flesh was no longer white or pale yellow – instead, it was a medium-orange color, firm and excellent looking. I tasted some raw. Tasty. I checked the seeds. They’re fat and hard and look like they may be viable.

I may have harvested them way too early for the seeds to be viable (I wasn’t trying to grow them for seeds), but some of them sank when I put them in water, so hopefully not!

It was grown alongside a bunch of other F1 seeds from the cross, this phenotype being the most common and most vigorous, so many of those seeds are likely to be F2.

The flesh tastes good cooked, and it has pronounced strings exactly like spaghetti squash, which I like. I suspect the other fruits will taste even better, since I’m planning to leave them to sit for weeks longer. Those really hard rinds seem to be awesome for storage.

In any case, I’m very pleased with this cross. People made dire warnings that I would get the worst of both varieties, but I kind of think I got the best of them both instead. I just needed to accept that zucchinis with hard rinds don’t have to be a bad thing. :wink:

The flavor of the marrow is very interesting. It has kind of a floral taste. It’s not what I’m used to, so at first I wasn’t sure what I thought about that, but it’s not worse; just different. Having different flavors in my pepo landrace (that are all good) is probably a good way to make sure I don’t get tired of them, so I think I’m going to say this different flavor is a desirable trait

Update: That was an orange-rinded marrow. The flavor of the yellow-rinded marrow I just tried is different! It tastes exactly like a spaghetti squash, a little bit creamy in flavor, but a bit milder and sweeter. It tastes like what a yellow squash wishes it were. (In my opinion, anyway.) If they all follow this pattern, the orange-rinded ones will be good, and the yellow-rinded ones will be even better.

Shame I can’t send in some seeds from the yellow-rinded one to go along with the seeds from the orange-rinded one – I’m sure it’s too late by now. But I can send seeds from both flavors next year!

Awesome!!! The word on this pepo just keeps getting better. I for one am all for ignoring dire warnings when the stakes are manageable.

Some of these zuggheti squashes went to the grab bag right? I would love to plant some next year

Ha ha! Yeah, I know what you mean. When people gave dire warnings, I was like, “Oh, whatever. What’s the worst that can happen? I don’t like the results and have to rip them out and replant with seeds from pure varieties? Big whoop de doo.” Low cost of failure + high reward from success = an experiment worth trying.

Yup! I sent maybe 30 to Debbie from the F1 generation (saved last year), and I sent maybe 300 from the F2 generation (saved this week). I don’t know what the F2s will be like, but I’m excited to find out. Those seeds will probably segregate in lots of fun ways. So there should be representation of both in the reckless pepo mix!

And I have now learned my lesson about only saving as many seeds as I need for myself. I should be saving ALL the seeds from everything that tastes good and is healthy, that way I can share them generously! :smiley:

By the way, I say “F2” because most of my pepos this year were spaghetti zucchinis, so they probably crossed with each other the most, but I didn’t fuss around with hand-pollinating, so there’s probably some unpredictable variation in there, as well. The other pepos I grew were Early Prolific Straightneck (didn’t like it, but the only plant I didn’t pull out WAS highly productive, which is a desirable trait), tatume (delicious, and I want to grow more of them), regular spaghetti, regular zucchini, and a few interesting other phenotypes that I think were spaghetti pattypan crosses. So the second generation is probably mostly spaghetti zucchini F2, but it could contain genes from any of those. Which should make it even more fun to see what happens! :smiley:

Oh, and the only other pepos near my yard were the spaghetti squashes in my next door neighbor’s garden. I doubt they contributed pollen because there’s a large building directly in between her garden and mine, but if they did, that’s fine anyway.

1 Like

Alma N
Did you try any of the f1 fruit as a summer squash??

Emily S
Most of them! When they’re small, they taste like zucchini, and they look like zucchini too, just a little fatter than normal. They all tasted good, but some of the plants had zucchinis that tasted particularly good – richer, creamier, more flavorful. Slightly yellow flesh, instead of white.

Sadly, I didn’t record which plants grew those, so I’m not sure whether the yellow-rind marrows or the orange-rind marrows are the mature form of the particularly yummy summer squashes.

Now that I’ve tried both phenotypes, I suspect it’s the yellow-rind ones (I sent in seeds from an orange-rind one), because those have a bit of a creamy taste as marrows. I could be wrong, though. In any case, those slightly different phenotypes definitely crossed with each other.

Once a fruit got to about a week old (you know how fast zucchinis grow), they were about a foot long, pretty fat, and the rind was thick and hard. They were hard to eat as zucchini. They still tasted good, but cutting them was a pain. Then I got a brainwave, and tried chopping them in half and microwaving them them, then removing the cooked flesh and discarding the hard rind, just like a spaghetti squash. That worked! In fact, they had the spaghetti squash strings and tasted just like spaghetti squash at that age, so I used them like spaghetti squash.

I harvested a total of 92 spaghetti zucchini fruits from about 6 plants (I think it was). I ate probably 40% of them larger, 30% of them smaller, and I have 30% sitting around right now that I’m going to let turn into marrows. The ones in my closet that I harvested three months ago already are marrows. The 20-25 that I harvested last are all big and have hard rinds, so I think they’ll probably be mature marrows in about three months or so. They’re sitting on shelves all over my house, and I’ll let them show me what they can do.

Emily S
I’m thinking I’ll try crossing some of my spaghetti zucchinis with delicatas next year. I don’t want zucchini genes in my delicatas, but I’m very interested in seeing what delicata genes will do in my zucchinis. I suspect yummy things will result.

Alma Naylor
This is really cool, sounds like you have a great dual purpose squash.

Emily Sorensen
In my (admittedly limited) experience so far, every pepo I’ve grown that has tasted good as a summer squash has also tasted good as a winter squash. I’m starting to suspect the two are highly correlated, and the usual division between summer/winter squash is far more arbitrary than people realize.

The opposite also seems to be true: if it tastes bad as a summer squash, it will also taste bad as a winter squash.

Since this has been a 100% correlation for me so far, I’m thinking that I’ll plan to eat the second (or maybe third) fruit on every pepo I grow. If it tastes good, I’ll mark the first fruit (and possibly more) to grow to maturity. If it tastes meh, I’ll harvest the first fresh to eat as a summer squash, uproot the plant, and put a new seed in its place. If I do this consistently when the plant first starts fruiting, that should give me just enough time in the growing season to get fruit from the replacement plant, see if it’s tastier, and if so, harvest the first fruit just before first frost and let it ripen inside for seeds.

Alma N
That will definitely limit the not tasty plant contributing polen to the population. And save precious space by planting something else.

In my climate, I could not get production from a squash seed planted that late, but I could anticipate removal and have seedlings ready to go. Or I could use the space for a little fall brassica or carrot patch.

Emily S
That’s what I’m thinking! I’d rather not let meh plants contribute much pollen to the landrace, and I’d definitely rather use the space for something else if the plant hasn’t earned that precious space.

If it’s too late for a squash to realistically fill that space and give me a harvest, I’ll plant brassicas or radishes, getting a head start on my winter garden. Carrots, maybe, but those do so well underneath my bush zucchinis that I’ll probably never give them a dedicated space of their own again. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Our average last frost date is April 15th, and our average first frost date is October 15th, so we’ve got about 180 days of growing season. Shrink that to 150 if you want to plant around May 15th in case of late mild frosts (three happened this year!), which is what most people do. As for me, I want to train my warm weather crops to be able to handle a few light frosts as seedlings, so I can take advantage of the full growing season. And/or I might put them under hoop houses to provide a degree or two of protection in the first few weeks. We’ll see.

I thought, when I planted my Butterstick zucchini seed around August 15th, that it probably wouldn’t give me a harvest at all. I figured I’d just evaluate it for growth habit and thorniness, so that I knew whether I wanted to include it next year. But to my surprise and pleasure, it gave me 9 summer squashes before the frost! And if I’d thought about it then, I could have planted it a month sooner in the space left after pulling out an Early Prolific Straightneck that had not earned its place in my garden. So what that tells me is that I can definitely get away with pulling out the meh ones and replanting immediately!

In fact, if I start chitting a seed indoors as soon as I see some second fruits forming, I could have a germinated seed all ready to go on the same day that I harvest a second fruit and eat it. That might be a good idea if it’s a bit later in the season, and a few days’ head start may make a difference.

Our summers are brutally hot, and we have very little spring or fall. We have about five and a half months of brutally hot summer, five and a half months of uncomfortably cold winter, and maybe, if we’re lucky, two weeks each of mild, pleasant spring and fall. Those four weeks are when we get almost all of our rain for the entire year. Most of the rest of our precipitation is snow. Ahhhh, desert.

The main reason I care so much about being able to plant things immediately after the last frost date (or earlier) is that I want to use the spring rain to germinate my seeds. It’s the only water the sky will give my garden for about five months, so I want it to be utilized, not wasted. All the more because I want to teach my plants to adapt to being dry farmed. I don’t want food crops that are reliant on irrigation if the irrigation (literally) dries up here. The whole Colorado River situation has convinced me that it’s urgent to start adapting my crops, and my gardening habits, to as little irrigation as possible, preferably using only my stored winter snowmelt and spring rainwater.

Lauren Ritz
I started getting woodchips this week. Amazing! I’m going to pile them 12-18 inches deep to kill the grass underneath and plant into the ground underneath.

Maybe this counts as a 2nd generation? :slight_smile:

I like your idea of pulling out anything that doesn’t taste good. Now I’m in an area that has time for that, so it’ll be nice. When I did the early plants at my old house, I put a milk jug over the seedlings and just let them deal beyond that. So protected from frost or snow, but still got cold.

Update on the spaghetti zucchinis!

I’ve now opened four of them. They’ve all tasted good, although my favorite was the second one. I’m saving at least 20 seeds of each fruit for myself, and setting the rest aside for sharing (and/or wildly oversowing to test for drought tolerance).

There are nine left in my closet. Still no signs of any spoilage, and they’ve been sitting there for over four months.

There are another fifteen on shelves on my hallway bookcases, which I harvested about three months ago. They still have green rinds and are hard as rock. They’ll probably turn into marrows by the time I finish the ones in my closet.

There are another twelve in a box on the floor of my bedroom, which I harvested about two months ago, my last harvest the night before the first frost. Ditto, although the smallest one is feeling a bit soft, so that one may have been too immature to age properly, and it may be spoiling. If I get around to it, I may open it up to find out (and eat it if it’s fine) in the next week. If I don’t get around to it, well, I’ve moved it to another spot, so if it’s spoiling, it won’t affect anything else.

I harvested them all immature – after being on the plant for two to three weeks – so if they all turn into marrows I can eat as winter squash, that’ll be pretty awesome. I thought I had a problem with too much summer squash that I couldn’t keep up with. It’s looking like I was growing an abundance of winter food, which is a solution, instead. Neat.

I also opened one of my Zucca gourds that I harvested immature because I planted the seeds way too late in the season. It’s been on my shelf for two months. The one I ate two months ago had tiny, immature seeds. The one I ate this week had larger, better-formed seeds, half of which sank, so I saved them. I’ll leave my third and last Zucca gourd on the shelf for another few months. I’m guessing it won’t spoil and will give me fully formed seeds. I will add that the closer-to-ripe Zucca gourd had less flesh, a much harder and less palatable rind, and less flavor than the unripe one, though.

Five of my six Israeli melon fruits were slightly immature when I had to harvest them before the first frost (sniffle). The last one I ate had spoiled a bit after two months on the counter, not a big surprise. The other four were still fine after a month on the counter. They weren’t as sweet as I want my melons to be, being immature, but they tasted fine, and giving them that extra time did seem to help the seeds finish growing, which were fully formed and in great shape.

So, I’m starting to think it’s not just my spaghetti zucchinis in specific that can mature quite well off the plant, but many cucurbits in general.

I may try testing some maxima squashes next year to see if they’ll let me do the same thing. If so, I may be able to double my harvest by removing the earliest squashes halfway through the growing season and having them finish ripening indoors. If I can get away with that, I love the idea for increasing the harvest within a small growing area.

Check out this gorgeous spaghetti zucchini!

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Harvested in late July. It’s now January. No signs of rotting. It was on the plant for two weeks. I harvested it dark green, with a rind that was very, very hard. It’s now dark yellow, with a rind that is still just as hard. And it’s massive!

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Cutting it open.

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Hello, beautiful!

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Tastes mildly sweet taste raw. Oh, interesting, a new flavor – it has an ever-so-slight hint of melon to it. Very slight, but it’s there.

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Don’t worry, I’ll take good care of your children.

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Now, kids, I’m going to ferment you for a few days to get rid of the pulp. Behave for your baby-sitter and don’t sprout until later, okay?

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Hello, seeds from the previous fruit I ate! You’ve done a good job of not sprouting, even though I forgot about you and sort of, um, left you fermenting for a week and a half. I’ll just, um, drain you right now . . .

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Here you go, seeds from the previous fruit! I’m going to be super duper lazy and just dump you out without giving you a few seconds on a towel. I live in a desert, so I know you’ll be bone dry in a few days.

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Now to cook this fruit for dinner!

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Spaghetti and meatballs for the lazy gardener who doesn’t like cooking. Yum.

Yes, I sent in seeds from one of my spaghetti zucchinis for the reckless pepo seed grex. That fruit had a slight floral taste, so this one must be from a different plant. I didn’t bother to mark which fruits came from which plants, because I wasn’t originally planning to save seeds from them. I only decided to try it after I saw they were ripening indoors. These have surprised me with how great they are.

Well, there were hundreds of seeds in there, and I’m saving them all, so if you want some seeds from this exact fruit, PM me!

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(Five minutes later, after the food has cooled down enough to eat.)

Mmm. Cooked, it tastes like a mild yellow squash with a slight hint of honey. I like this.

Note that the strings aren’t as pronounced as a purebreed spaghetti squash, so it’s not great as spaghetti, but it’s great as clumps of squash with a strong bumpy texture, which works for me!

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Oh my gourd! I was not expecting them to be this size. Hope I’m not stringing out the joke, but it’s gourdgeous :slightly_smiling_face:

Hee hee! I like puns, so you’re good. :slight_smile:

This was one of the biggest ones I harvested. Most of them were about . . . 75% this size, I’d say? A few were larger, but not many. I’m sure they would have gotten bigger if I’d left them on the plant.

Now do you see what I mean when I said I couldn’t keep up with the harvest? They’re huge! Which, given that they taste good and have an excellent storage life, is a bonus. :slight_smile:

Amazing

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Yeah, I like how productive these plants were! It makes sense, because the Black Beauty zucchinis I grew in 2021 grew two feet long when I left them on the plant for a week, and the spaghetti squashes I grew in 2021 were about a foot and a half long, and quite fat, on average.

Most spaghetti squashes are only about eight inches long, so I don’t know why mine were so huge (they were just transplants I bought on a whim at Lowes!), but they were. My largest spaghetti squash was about two and a half feet long, and very thick. It was the last winter squash I opened – I ate it eight months after harvesting it, and it was in perfect shape. I saved all the seeds from that fruit.

I also saved all the seeds from the fruit that was the first to appear on one of my three spaghetti squash plants. I think those were the seeds I planted in 2022. That fruit was about two feet long. It was maybe the third largest out of all of them. I got eleven spaghetti squashes off three vines, and all of the fruits were at least a foot long.

So yeah, I was expecting big fruits! What I wasn’t expecting was that they would grow as long as a zucchini and almost as fat as a spaghetti squash in two weeks. That meant I got twice as much fruit flesh as I’d anticipated. (Grin.)

First zucchetti harvested in 2021. Harvested in July.

2021 harvest (that I didn’t eat.)


The round ones are pumpetti, except for one true pumpkin.

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Nice! The stripes are really pretty. What kind of zucchini did you use?

What’s the variety of pumpkin? Was it a field pumpkin? I tried an accidental Jack O’Lantern pumpkin x zucchini cross from my neighbor last year, and it was bitter and nasty, so I didn’t save seeds from it. Or eat more than a few bites. Yuck.

Tatume pumpkins look the same but are delicious, however, so I suspect a tatume x zucchini cross will taste good. (I sure hope so, because I made that cross this year and plan to save seeds from it! :wink: )

You might find this paper interesting: Inheritance of Fruit Bitterness in a Cross of Cucurbita mixta × C. pepo in: HortScience Volume 23 Issue 3 (1988)

They concluded that there were three genetic loci for bitterness in Cucurbita. They concluded that all three loci need to have a gene, which is dominant, in order for bitterness to express.

Therefore crossing two different non-bitter squash could occasionally produce a bitter offspring from non-bitter fruit if the combination wound up with dominant genes in all three loci.

I honestly have no idea what kind of pumpkin it was. A pie pumpkin of some kind. The pumpetti have a stronger flavor than either zucchetti or spaghetti squash, with a hint of pumpkin. I’ve saved seeds mostly for the zucchetti because it has been the heaviest producer.

The zucchini is a mystery variety we’ve been saving seeds for since I was a kid (assuming I ever grew up).

Oh, cool! Yeah, a pie pumpkin would definitely have a good flavor.

Oh, it’s the zucchini variety of the seeds you sent me! :smiley: I’m excited to grow those. I’m hoping they’ll do well dry farmed under oodles of wood chips. Have your zucchettis been successfully dry farmed, too?

Not yet. They only got watered once a week, but they weren’t dry farmed. Their ancestors were, except for the spaghetti squash.