How do you solve a problem like zucchini?

How do you stop a vine and stake it down? 

Silly “Sound of Music” jokes aside, how do you solve the problem of an over-abundance of zucchini, the gardener’s too-productive squash?

Too much zucchini! A staple in nearly every Midwestern backyard garden, zucchini vines are easy to grow (and hard to kill). They are also prolific plants, with a single zucchini vine producing eight to ten pounds or more of squash in a single summer.

And of course, as we head into the most productive, prolific time of year right now, it can feel as though it’s impossible to use up the zucchini as quickly as it is growing in your garden.

Why so prolific? Well, as we mentioned above, zucchini plants are easy to grow. The zucchini vine also produce lots of blossoms for pollination, and each pollinated blossom grows another new zucchini.

Rooty-tooty, it’s a fruit-y. Also, zucchini are what is called cyclical — that is, if you pick one off the vine, the vine is “encouraged” (so to speak) to crank out another zucchini fruit (yes! botanically speaking, zucchini is not a veg, it’s a fruit!). Your dilligent squash-picking today insures even more zucchini harvesting duties in the near future.

How do you manage the over-abundance of zucchini from your garden?

Pick early and often. This may sound counter-intuitive, especially since we just told you that frequent harvesting will lead to increased production of zucchini! However, picking zucchini when they are still small (8″ or shorter, and less than 1-1/2″ in diameter) means you have small, tender squash to deal with – perfect to chop up and toss into a stir-fry or pasta dish. Leave the zucchini un-picked, and you do so at your peril: a zucchini left on the vine can grow big as a sandbag (and will taste about as good, too, with a more “woody” texture).

The seeds of the smaller zucchini are more tender as well, alleviating the necessity to arduously scoop out the tough, seedy middle of the plant, as you do with a larger, more mature squash.

Nipped in the bud. You can also head off additional zucchini production when you pick the blossoms themselves. Without the blossoms, the subsequent zucchini will not grow. Plus, you can use the just-picked, tender blossoms as ingredients, too — fresh in a salad or soup, or battered and fried, or even stuffed and baked.

The suggestions above will help reduce the daily surplus of zucchini coming out of your garden.

But what if the reduced supply of zucchini is still more than you can handle?

One suggestion is to anonymously leave your extra zucchini on your neighbor’s front porch, like some sort of demented three-months-late Mayday basket.

Ding-dong ditching, the squash edition. Don’t laugh: Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day is an actual official day (August 8), and is considered by some to be a legitimate solution to your too-much-zucchini dilemma.

A ‘grate’ idea. Zucchini isn’t suitable for canning or pickling, but it can be prepared and frozen, to be used later on in making baked goods like muffins and batter breads. To freeze zucchini, cut the ends off the squash, chop it into big chunks, and grate or shred the squash with your food processor.  Measure the shredded zucchini into 2- or 4-cup portions and transfer to quart-sized bags for storage in your freezer.

If you’re still looking for new and creative ways to keep up with (and use up) the daily harvest, we have lots of zucchini recipes over on the AllSpice website.