Zucchini: Alberta Favourite

Prairie gardeners love to grow the hardy summer squash called zucchini or courgette. In our backyard garden in Edmonton, we grow your basic long green zucchini and another variety called Papaya Pear, which is yellow and....pear shaped. Courgette 'Soleil' is a yellow version of the basic long zucchini. All are delicious and easy to grow.

You can grow zucchini from seed planted directly in the garden, once the soil has warmed up in late May. Or start your own bedding plants a few weeks early and plant out when temperatures are above all danger of frost. Zucchini is an annual plant that will readily die when temperatures dip at or below freezing. 

Give your plants lots of room to grow. These are not trailing squashes - just big plants. Full sun is preferred. If you notice the young leaves are being eaten, skim around the soil surface (about 1 inch below) and you may find a cutworm or two. A light soil with lots of compost is heaven for the growing zucchini. The hard clay (but fertile) soils of Edmonton need lightened with leaves and compost. 

By late July, small zucchinis are ready to eat. Zucchinis are at their best for fresh eating when small, so harvest them early and harvest them often. No need to peel away the skin - it is mild and edible. Eat them cooked or raw.

Grilled zucchini is delicious and light. Cut it in half along the length, and brush it with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and dust the top with cinnamon. Grill for about 5 minutes with the peel side down and flip it over for just for a few minutes. It gets mushy if overcooked.

Spiralize zucchini for fresh use in a salad. It can also be thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler for salad. Some use it in place of pasta. 

It's good chopped and lightly fried in olive oil & garlic. Basil and shaved parmesan cheese enhance the flavour of zucchini. 

For the ambitious, there is always zucchini loaf.
Papaya Pear Zucchini
Don't underestimate the lowly zucchini. It is refreshingly delicious and so easy to grow. By August, we are inundated with zucchini. We place extra zucchinis out front on a table with a sign that says 'Zucchini - Free'. 

Albertans love this classic old fashioned vegetable.

Link to James Gurlock's garden fresh zucchini