SpadeRunner

Zucchini flowers, making the most of the crop.

Zucchini flowers seem like an extravagance, using flowers now that you could pick as fruit later. This year though I have watched dozens of zucchini flowers open and fade without any fruit production at all. So I have realised that picking the flowers is actually a good use of the crop, giving possibly as much yield as waiting for the fruit.

Growing zucchini flowers in humid climates

zucchini flowers are just as useful a vegetable as the fruit.

A plate of freshly picked zucchini flowers.

I planted ‘Costa Romanesque’ zucchinis this Spring, and the plants grew very well in our drier than normal Summer, but although they flowered abundantly and rambled far from their starting points, they have set very few fruit. Although we have plenty of bees and other flying insects, we don’t seem to have good pollinators for zucchinis, and I have seen that other gardeners in the area pollinate by hand. The other issue is that the Costa Romanesque plants seemed to flower all male or all female on mornings when I though I’d hand pollinate, and anyway didn’t set fruit well when I managed to get pollen on a female flower.

The solution is to just pick the flowers. The male flowers make a great pasta sauce, and the female flowers already have a finger sized zucchini which makes a fine vegetable. The best time to pick is first thing in the morning when all the new flowers are open, and before ants have had a chance to get to them (they are hard to wash out).

For a good home-made dinner it’s easy to make tagliatelle from a cup of flour and an egg, cook that in a few minutes and add to it a sauce of a sautéed onion with a big pile of shredded zucchini flowers and whatever herbs added at the last minute.

I’ve got another squash plant growing rampantly now, a rambling climber that does well on the garden fence. While the flowers are smaller than the zucchini flowers, they are much more abundant and taste just as good. I think in future years I will stick with this kind, as I can just pick a bucket of flowers on any morning and have dinner sorted.