Zucchini plants: Gift that keeps on giving

By Grant McGee: Local Columnist

One of the neatest things about coming home to Clovis after our summer vacation was how the garden exploded into a lush green paradise.

When we left town, all the little guys (corn, beans, yellow squash, zucchini, pumpkins, watermelons) were just sprouting.

We came home to 3-foot tall corn stalks, happy tomatoes and big ol’ squash and zucchini plants. It was like time-lapse photography.

When it comes to producing, the superstar of the garden is zucchini. I’m not naïve, I’ve heard zucchini stories: “Don’t plant too many, you’ll be flooded with zucchini,” or “You’ll get tired of zucchini with dinner, zucchini in your salad, zucchini bread, zucchini cake,” or that friendships have been sorely tested by the gardener who has too many zucchini. I thought those stories were about people with green thumbs and highly productive patches. Surely novices such as The Lady of the House and I would only have enough zucchini for the two of us.

As with many things in life, I should have listened to the advice of the experienced. When I was asked how much zucchini I wanted in the garden I said, “Plant a bunch.” Later I understood why I was given a weird look.

I had never had zucchini in the garden before. My previous experience with zucchini was from friends who were passing them out at work and such. I had no idea that back at home they were being overcome by the green things.

The first zucchinis were small and bright. “The French call these ‘courgettes,’” said The Lady of the House. They were chopped up for salad.

A couple of days later, the zucchini invasion began. What had once been small finger-like things had grown into lunkers about as big and round as a trucker’s forearm.

“I’m going to pull up half the zucchini plants,” announced The Lady of the House.

“No, no, no,” I protested. “They’re living things, look how happy and green they are being in your garden.”

I got this look from her that guys are familiar with. It’s one that says, “Are you serious” or that I was full of some stuff that would make the garden even happier.

“Well, you’re going to have to start taking zucchinis to work,” she said.

I liked that idea, the idea of sharing.

Off to work I went with a big bag of zucchini. They were gone in short order.

One co-worker even introduced me to a Southwestern/Mexican term for zucchinis: calabacitas. She grew up in Las Vegas, N.M., and spoke of a dish made by stuffing a zucchini with meat, cheese and things, then baking it.

We’ve had zucchini in salad, fried zucchini, zucchini and yellow squash medley and, my favorite, zucchini chocolate cake.

The Lady of the House packed off a bag of zucchini to our pal Marty’s workplace. One of Marty’s co-workers directed her to the Web site “690 Zucchini Recipes.” Remember the movie “Forrest Gump?” Remember Forrest’s pal Bubba and how he could rattle off all the things you could do with shrimp? That reminds me of all the things you can do with zucchini.

There’s zucchini bread, zucchini cheese crisps, candied zucchini, zucchini beef casserole, baked zucchini with mushrooms, baked zucchini boats, zucchini crab cakes, crust-less zucchini quiche …

I’ve been told we’re only having a couple of zucchini plants next year. Or maybe just one.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: blisscreeksw@yahoo.com