Mad Love for My Zucchini

[If your mind just plopped in the gutter, fish it out…this isn’t that kind of blog.]

How many of you have already started your summer garden (or long to have one)? After years of having a few planters and wishing for more space, this Spring I actually had the space and the motivation to put in a full-fledged garden.

Not just any garden. Nope, this 10×12 space of vegetable nirvana was last used by my husband’s father to grow veggies of outlandish proportion. My mother-in-law let it fall into disrepair after he passed and all that was left of his leafy legacy was the grape arbor, which makes you feel like you’re in Napa.

I’ve had big plans for this garden for a long time.

Early one Saturday morning at the end of March, I went to a class at Roger’s Gardens about putting in a vegetable garden. I thought I needed to get some know-how before attempting to grow things.

It shocked me to see nearly 60 people had arrived ahead of me; they were arranged in orderly rows with notebooks balanced on their knees and pencils at the ready. I looked at the instructor with a bit more respect and listened closely to the foreign words he spouted…all about how to augment your soil, which product yields what, and the ratio of this to that.

A peek around assured me that the other 60 people actually knew what this guy was talking about. Me? Not so much.

My hand popped into the air repeatedly, waving madly until the instructor would take pity on me. Finally, a white-haired lady in a huge straw hat leaned over and informed me that our instructor was the biggest rockstar gardener in the whole place (my words, not hers). It’s likely she was wishing I’d shut up and quit asking so many questions.

Gardening neophyte me had never heard augment and soil used in a sentence and I was a bit scared by how…involved all this was. Still, the buzz was in the air and I gulped it down. I spent $300 on all the products, tools and plants and went home expecting my husband’s eyes to pop out at both the number of plants and the price.

It took him four trips to unload the car but all he said (bless him) was, “You got a good variety. Are you excited?”

Sometime between the lesson with the rockstar and the car trip home, I’d inhaled some seriously green love vibes and I was wild to start planting.  I gave my husband a huge smile and thanked him for his help, imagining how exciting my garden full of plants would be. I figured it would take me a few hours to get the soil in shape and lay in my harvest.

I’d bought a blackberry bush, a blueberry bush, 12 tomato plants, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, red and yellow bell peppers, a jalapeno plant, 6 kinds of lettuce, onion chives, mint, 3 kinds of basil, strawberry plants, gold fingerling potatoes…oh, and some cantaloupe. 

Silly, silly me.

Two days, a pile of tree roots and rocks later, I had soil ready to be “augmented” (this means you mix in groovy nutrients to your existing soil so your veggies will grow). All that work and I hadn’t laid in a single plant!

THREE WEEKS later, after using all my spare moments, my last plant was finally in the ground. That’s when I learned the real top-secret lesson about gardening: it takes patience. What? How come no one told me that before allowing me to suck down all the gardening meth?

I worried over every inch of that garden like a helicopter mom. Were my tomatoes wilting? Would the strawberries survive? Did the mint die? (All you experienced gardeners, stop laughing. NOW I know it would probably take a nuclear blast to kill mint.)

When my lettuce thrived, I glowed. The first cucumber made me puff up with pride.  But the zucchini…my ginormous plant with the huge shading leaves made me lose my head a little bit.

It was like an organic orgasm every time I peeked under those prickly leaves. The delicate yellow squash flowers…the plethora of little green squashes…I’ll confess, my new gardener’s heart just went splat with mad love for my zucchini, which continues to grow and grow and grow.

My husband poked his head out the back door the other day while I was watering and communing with the veggie patch. “Are you talking to me?” he asked.

“Nope.”

“Well who are you talking to?”

“The garden.” I nodded toward the basket of green things I’d gathered for our dinner. “Have you ever seen such a gorgeous zucchini?”

He told me later I’d looked a bit drunk.

What can I say? I’ve been taken over by the organic high of growing your own food and eating it. It tastes better. We feel better. And I actually have something that resembles a tan for the first time in ten years.

And yesterday, when I woke up with a raging headache that kept me horizontal for most of the day, my honey came home at lunch and watered my garden for me. That sort of behavior is why I’m madly in love with him too.

If you’re gardening, what are you growing? (Feel free to share some tips!) What’s the latest summer passion for all you non-gardeners? Are there things you look forward to doing each year around this time? Enquiring minds want to know…

I love hearing from you! I’ve already shown my love with the Let’s Meet Up Contest – your comments put you in the hat to win a spot in the June webinar, which will be drawn in less than two weeks! This Friday we’re having our first webinar so I’ll report back later about how it went.🙂

See you tomorrow for a Triple D Friday!
Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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37 Responses to Mad Love for My Zucchini

  1. Colline says:

    Love the photograph! And what a huge zucchini! What meals did you make with it?

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      LOL, Colline…I love that picture too. Thankfully, I’m so impatient that I pick the zucchini long before it can take over the back seat. Plus, we’ve been using the squash flowers as shells for fish tacos…Yummy!

      Like

  2. Amy Kennedy says:

    Oh, this made me laugh. My mom always says, “If you want to feel successful, plant zucchini.” I love gardening, but have gone more perennial flowers lately. My husband and I talk about a vegi garden every year…maybe I should start getting the plot set now and then plant next spring!

    Like

  3. wosushi says:

    I made an attempt at a garden last summer and was excited with the things it produced. The “soil” here in Florida needs a lot of help though (it’s basically sand) so it needs more work if it’s going to work.

    I was surprised to see how resilient Japanese eggplant and Kale are. I highly recommend them.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I live in Orange County where our soil is either clay or sandy. Thankfully, my father-in-law had worked this soil over for years before I got hold of it, or my lead in time would have been much longer.

      I work part-time and have a baby so it took many days of spare moments and long evening sessions with the back porch light on after she was asleep!

      Like

  4. K.B. Owen says:

    So cool! I’m a “deck containers” kind of gardener. Here’s a zucchini poem for you, by Canadian author Marge Piercy:

    “Attack of the Squash People” by Marge Piercy

    And thus the people every year
    in the valley of humid July
    did sacrifice themselves
    to the long green phallic god
    and eat and eat and eat.
    They’re coming, they’re on us,
    the long striped gourds, the silky
    babies, the hairy adolescents,
    the lumpy vast adults
    like the trunks of green elephants.
    Recite fifty zucchini recipes!

    Zucchini tempura; creamed soup;
    sauté with olive oil and cumin,
    tomatoes, onion; frittata;
    casserole of lamb; baked
    topped with cheese; marinated;
    stuffed; stewed; driven
    through the heart like a stake.

    Get rid of old friends: they too
    have gardens and full trunks.
    Look for newcomers: befriend
    them in the post office, unload
    on them and run. Stop tourists
    in the street. Take truckloads
    to Boston. Give to your Red Cross.
    Beg on the highway: please
    take my zucchini, I have a crippled
    mother at home with heartburn.

    Sneak out before dawn to drop
    them in other people’s gardens,
    in baby buggies at churchdoors.
    Shot, smuggling zucchini into
    mailboxes, a federal offense.

    With a suave reptilian glitter
    you bask among your raspy
    fronds sudden and huge as
    alligators. You give and give
    too much, like summer days
    limp with heat, thunderstorms
    bursting their bags on our heads,
    as we salt and freeze and pickle
    for the too little to come.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      LMAO, Kathy! That poem is AWESOME.

      So, I’ll be leaving zucchini at the bus stop with a sign saying, “take me, pretty please,” before this is all over? Good to know. For now, I’m still riding high on the organic veggie vibes.

      Like

  5. Talking to plants is a fine conversation. I do it all the time.
    I planted my first proper vegetable garden last year. People warn you about growing zucchini, but I loved it. Along the way I found recipes for sweet zucchini relish, a surprisingly good zucchini soup that freezes well, zucchini lemon bread, and zucchini-based pastitsio pie. All yummy. I’m growing it again this year, along with other easy stuff like snow peas, scarlet runner beans, carrots, beets, tomatoes and squash. I’ll lay a bunch of stuff down for the winter, mostly in the freezer, and savour a taste of summer every time I use it. Ooh, and basil pesto: messy to make, fabulous to taste.
    PS: With 12 tomato plants you’ll feed the neighbourhood. Nice!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I know, Rachel…I kind of didn’t mean to buy so much…I shouldn’t have inhaled during the talk with the rockstar. I do make basil, with both pine nuts and walnuts..I love it. And it is WONDERFUL to know that snow peas and beans are an easy grow. I was too afraid of them my first year to try it.

      I think you need to come back and post some of those recipes here for the rest of us. Especially that soup and the pastitsio!

      Like

  6. Laura Drake says:

    Oh Jenny, you crack me up. NOW I see why you haven’t been writing! It is addicting though. I can’t wait to get to Texas and start my truck garden…

    And enjoy the zucchini love while you can – by August you’ll be peeping under the leaves and saying, “Oh, no, not ANOTHER one!” and the neighbors will lock the doors when you show up on their porches with an armload. The entire neighborhood will be zucchini’d out.

    Like

  7. EllieAnn says:

    That was an incredibly fun post to read!
    My family grew almost all out veggies growing up, we rarely bought any we just gardened and canned and froze our food. I’m still a bit burnt out from all that gardening when I was young, but I’m almost to the point where I want my own.🙂
    I love getting all my produce from the farmer’s market though!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I love the Farmer’s Market too, EllieAnn! I still have to go for things like avocadoes and the other things I don’t grow, but I’m blessed to have 5 markets that run on various days of the week pretty close to me. There’s an heirloom tomato vendor that weeps with joy when he sees me coming.

      Like

  8. Sherry Isaac says:

    Hello Jenny,
    Gloria Richard, a Texas writer and good chum, put me onto your blog this morning. A sign she was tired of hearing me lament about the dirt under my fingernails?
    Here in Toronto, our gardening season isn’t as long. Neighbour to the left shares his tomato crop, neighbour (sorry, neighbor) to the right grows zucchini. I’m in the middle with rhubarb and berries and grapes.
    Watch out for the mint. I was nearly overrun 3 years ago. Still find the odd little sucker after the snow melts.
    Happy gardening. Enjoyed your post.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Hi, Sherry! Welcome!! Thank Gloria for me because it sounds like I needed you to tell me about rhubarb. I love adding it to pies and such. That’s pretty groovy that you basically have a gardening co-op going in your neighborhood.🙂

      I’ve heard horror stories about mint so I put it in it’s own little square of dirt where the dead little spindle of sticks I planted has become something leafy and sassy.

      Like

  9. Allrecipes.com has several zucchini soup recipes. The one I tried, and like, is at http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Zucchini-Soup-I/Detail.aspx . I added minced garlic and one more potato to thicken it but otherwise left it as is. Delicate flavour but tasty.

    The pastitsio pie recipe was from Saltscapes magazine, and I didn’t change a thing other than using chopped frozen roma tomatoes I’d grown the previous summer: http://www.saltscapes.com/index.php?Itemid=173&option=com_zoo&view=item&category_id=9&item_id=54 . The cinnamon flavour is unexpected but works. It freezes well, too.

    Like

  10. Some people have a green thumb, mine is black. I’ve always wanted to be a witch, and when I attempt to garden or even care for a green plant this is the one time I feel like I have supernatural powers. I touch it; it dies. So, I leave gardening up to my guy. Every summer we have a garden outside – this year it’s strawberries, rosemary, chives, tomatillos, and peppers. My goal is to have enough fresh ingredients out back to make salsa anytime we want in the summer – but if I don’t go with him to buy the seeds, I get an array of different things. I’ll take what I can get!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Yummy…salsa! I have the tomatoes and jalapeno for the same reason. At least your honey’s thumb countermands your witchy one (l LOVE that!).

      My real goal was to try to plant everything we buy a lot of . If I had an avocado tree, onions and garlic, we’d nearly be self-sufficient on the veggie front.

      Like

  11. karalennox says:

    My parents were gardeners, but I didn’t inherit the gene. Now I am trying to learn, doing just a little bit more each year. This year I’m up to four tomato plants (I do well with those), some lettuce (can’t keep it from being eaten by bugs) bell peppers (so far so good) strawberry (slow starter) grape and raspberry (jury’s still out) and zuchinni (another slow starter, some of the plants got eaten). But I do love to get out and work in the dirt. It relaxes my brain.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Kara,

      I did the planter thing for a long time and loved having just a few plants. I planted marigolds all the way around my lettuce and it seems to have thwarted some of the bugs. I’ve found a few slugs but the solution for that is just beer. The snails and slugs drink it and then slink away and die.

      It relaxes my brain too.🙂

      Like

  12. Sharla Rae says:

    Hey Jen, loved the blog. Congrats on your garden, can’t wait to see it next time I visit.

    Like

  13. Isn’t gardening awesome?! LOL on the mint and the HUGE zucchinis. I’ve stopped planting zucchinis ’cause they go so crazy and our mint is confined to a big built-in concrete planter. It’s great that you put in bushes – it took me years to think of that but now I have a perennial harvest.

    Keep us posted on the garden!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I am really excited about it all, as you could tell from this post.🙂

      I really love zucchini so I’m not going to give it up yet, but will likely never grow more than one plant ever. I mean, jeez…did you see that poem Kathy posted??

      Like

  14. Lol. I don’t garden much…actually, my Dad prefers that I stay as far away from anything that resembles live plants. So when you talked about 10 x 12, I was thinking of inches instead of feet (or is it meters?).🙂

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