The Snarky Gardener really loves Burpee’s Sure Thing Hybrid Zucchini but only in a platonic way.
I don’t usually get all goo goo over a specific vegetable variety (unless it’s my own like the Snarky Orange Cherry Tomato). As an avid seed saver and swapper, I go with whatever seeds I have at hand. This year, I wanted to grow the rainbow type of Swiss chard, but only had a random red variety. Oh well, it all tastes the same once cooked. I can’t even tell you what kind of cucumbers I grew this year. Had some seeds, stuck them in the ground, waited for them to grow, ate cucumbers. But when it comes to zucchini, I’m very particular.
As I first came into my own as a gardener, I didn’t take failure well. (Actually, now that I think about it, I still don’t). For me, there’s nothing more depressing early in the season than watching tiny little zucchinis start out with the flower on the end, get a bit bigger, and then just shrivel up and die (so sad). The primary reason for this lost is female flowers need insects to pollinate them. No pollination equals no zucchini to eat. Early in the season, a lack of pollination can be problematic especially if it’s rainy, cloudy, windy or below 50 degrees as honey bees don’t go out of the hive on those days (slackers!). If you ever go out and watch your cucurbits (cucumbers, squash, zucchini, pumpkins, watermelons, and the like) on a nice sunny warm morning, it will feel like an airport of bee activity (buzz buzz buzz).
Q: Why do my zucchini fruits just shrivel up and die?
A: Zucchini flowers need to be pollinated. No pollination equals no zucchini to eat.
Here in Northeastern Ohio, with our lake-effect clouds and cruddy spring weather, it seems like this issue is even more pronounced (though that could just be the Seasonal Affective Disorder talking). Fortunately, I did a little, research and came across Burpee’s Sure Thing Hybrid Zucchini. It’s a seedless variety specifically bred for this situation. Seedless means it doesn’t need fertilized. Problem solved!
Normally, I have a no hybrid rule in my garden but I do make exceptions for times like these. I enjoy saving seeds and while you technically can save hybrids, the “experts” don’t recommended it because you don’t know what you are going to get when you plant them (could be a puppy – who really knows?). Of course with this seedless hybrid variety, you can’t save these (thanks Captain Obvious). A few years back I did serendipitously save and grow out some hybrid SunGold cherry tomatoes and ended up with my very own variety (the Snarky Orange Cherry tomato). Little known fact: you can name them whatever you want (I prefer Fred).
What I like about these Sure Things is I don’t get the “My Zucchini Won’t Pollinate Blues”. I can plant them right after the last frost and they will grow well from there. (Hold it, how do you know it’s actually going to be the LAST frost of the year? Don’t worry, if you get another frost, you can just plant again.) These are a bush variety, so they pretty much stay put instead of crawling all over the garden like pumpkins do. The downside of any bush plant (zucchini, bean, pea, tomato) is that they have a limited growth timeline meaning they won’t necessarily fruit all season. That’s the trade off from the pole or indeterminate types though I will say the Sure Things from last season’s cool rainy weather did go from June into September. So how do you fight the lesser production? Simple – plant some once every month until 2 months before the average normal first frost (so for Ohio plant in May, June, July, and August). What to do with all that zucchini? That’s for a different time (hint: zucchini pickles).