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Summer squash varieties—like zucchini, crookneck, and patty pan—are best harvested small, while their skins are still soft, and before seeds develop.
Unlike winter squash, which ripen on the vines all summer and are harvested in fall, summer squash are harvested continuously, throughout the summer.
While some summer squash form large vines, many have been bred for an open, compact habit that takes up less space and makes it easier to see squash that need harvesting.
If you're growing squash in containers, look for "compact bush-type vines" in the descriptions of each variety.
Patty Pan Squash
Patty pan squash are like little flying saucers with scalloped edges. They have a delicious, nutty crunch, and are great sliced in half and grilled, or chopped and sautéed quickly with fresh herbs, especially basil.
They should be harvested at 2-3" (5-8 cm) ideally, but 4" (10 cm) patty pans are still good for grilling. At larger sizes, they become pithy, seedy, and have tougher skins, so harvest early and often.
‘Golden Bush Scallop’ (Heirloom, Open Pollinated, 65 days) produces dense, meaty, full-flavored pattypan squash over a long season. They're excellent for grilling, sauteing, or blending into soups. Compact bush-type vines are good for small space gardens and containers.
‘Starship’ (F1 Hybrid, 65 days) is a prolific producer of dark green, shiny patty pan squash. G-star replaces it at Johnny's, it has more pronounced ribs and darker green skin.
‘Sunburst’ (F1 Hybrid, 52 days) is a bright yellow patty pan, and a prolific producer over a long season. Compact vines suitable for small gardens and containers. 1985 AAS Winner.
‘Peter Pan’ (F1 Hybrid, 50 days) is a pale green patty pan variety that produces very early and prolifically. With denser flesh than most patty pan squash, they're ideal for grilling.
‘Benning's Green Tint’ (Heirloom, Open Pollinated, 57 days) is a non-hybrid patty pan that produces light green, dense patty pan squash, similar to 'Peter Pan', but an heirloom variety.
Yellow Summer Squash
‘Yellow Crookneck’ (Heirloom, Open Pollinated, 58 days) is the classic yellow summer squash. It has sweet, firm, buttery flesh, and yellow bumpy skin. Best flavor and texture if harvested at 4-5” (10-13cm).Buy 'Yellow Crookneck' Squash Seeds (Burpee Seeds)
‘Golden Egg’ (F1 Hybrid, 45 days) produces gorgeous yellow summer squash like elongated eggs. A favorite of chef's for their creamy, flavorful flesh, and voted the best tasting squash at Burpee Seeds two years in a row. Vines spread 3-6'(1/2-1 m), and produce for 8 weeks. Best harvested at about 4" (10 cm).Buy 'Golden Egg' Squash Seeds (Burpee Seeds)
‘One Ball’ (F1 Hybrid, 50 days) produces abundant yellow spherical squash. Starts early and produces all summer long. Resistant to Watermelon Mosaic Virus race 2 and Zucchini Yellow Mosaic Virus.Buy 'One Ball' Squash Seeds (Amazon)
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