It's Harvest Season! After our cool and wet spring, the weather has warmed up and those heat loving veggies in the garden are most likely beginning to ripen. Now is the time to remember to check your garden daily. Not only can water needs change quickly, but there is generally one or two pieces of fruit ready to harvest every day, including our favorite, zucchini!
Zucchini is one of the most popular vegetables for home gardeners. Why?
- It is easy to grow and quick to harvest making it at the top of the list for new and inexperienced gardeners. Here are some instructions for harvesting zucchini.
- It is bursting with vitamins and offers many health benefits
- It is a very versatile veggie that can be used in many dishes, including your 3 daily meals and even dessert!
- Moms, zucchini is easy to disguise! Chop it up and use it to make muffins, cakes, bars and even cupcakes. Zucchini is a great "secret" ingredient for picky eaters.
Let's start with the basics. Zucchini is very easy to grow. Plant it in the spring and watch it grow. Any day now, zucchini planted in mid spring will begin to bear fruit. Below are instructions for when and how to pick the zucchini.
1. Zucchini can be picked when they have reached a minimum of 4 inches.
2. The more you pick, the more will grow. So, if you want a lot of zucchini, pick them. Letting them grow large on the vine will slow production, leading to less, but larger fruit. Tip from the Pros: Harvest the blossoms to be used in salads or as a garnish.
3. Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the zucchini from the rough stem.
That's it...Now what to do with all the zucchini?????
Now that the picking is done, don't let the crop go to waste! While easy to to cook, creativity is required to use up all that zucchini. Luckily these green squash are multi-purpose and can be used in a variety of soups, pastas, and even desserts. The smooth texture and mild taste make zucchini an ideal ingredient for pastas, grilling and even baking.
One of our favorite recipes is from our own Anieda, not only a wonderful gardener, but also an amazing chef and baker! Follow the directions below for delicious Chocolate Zucchini Bread.
2 1 oz. squares unsweetened chocolate
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups grated zucchini
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 9x5 loaf pans. In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate until melted. Stir chocolate until smooth.
In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, zucchini, vanilla and melted chocolate. Beat well. Stir in flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake in preheated oven for 60-70 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out smooth.
Freezes well! Make a couple batches and freeze for fall and winter!
Learn more about Vegetable Gardening by downloading a copy of our FREE Vegetable Garden Planning Guide below.