Zucchini has a good combination of nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K, folate, manganese, and potassium – all important for heart health. Most of these nutrients reside in the skin and the darker the zucchini, the more nutrients, especially beta-carotene and minerals. Like all summer squashes, zucchini are very low in calories and high in water content. Try some squash just lightly steamed rather than fried or in casseroles; you’ll enjoy the maximum of nutrients and retain the low calorie count.
Growing squash is easier than you might think. Plant a buttery Yellow Crookneck, delicately flavoured Golden Scallop Pattypan, and a Black Beauty zucchini, and by time peak season rolls around, you could be picking several squash a day — more than enough to eat, freeze, and gift to friends and neighbors.
There is no hurry to harvest nutrient-rich “winter” squash like Acorn, Buttercup, and Butternut, which ripen to full maturity before they are picked. These varieties grow through the summer, but when stored properly, keep well into the colder months.
Quick Guide to Growing Squash
- Plant summer squash when all chances of frost have passed; winter squash can be planted in mid-summer.
- Give squash plants room to sprawl by planting them 3 to 6 feet apart. Grow them in an area that gets 6 or more hours of sun and has rich, well-drained soil.
- Give your native soil a nutrient boost by mixing in several inches aged compost or other rich organic matter.
- Squash rely on consistent moisture but avoid wetting the leaves; 1 to 1.5 inches of water weekly is best.
- Make the most of your food growing efforts by keeping plants fed with a continuous-release plant food.
- Feel free to harvest baby summer squash once they’re large enough to eat, or wait until they reach full size (usually 6 to 8 inches long).