In August, there are some things you can count on: beautiful sunny weather, followed by complaints about the heat, and zucchini. Lots of zucchini.
If you don’t grow zucchini, you probably know someone who does, and they have most likely offered you some. In fact, they may have begged you to take more than one; with tales of how great they are to add to your favorite jam recipe, or for making the moistest chocolate zucchini loaf. You may have heard stories of zucchini being found on neighbour’s doorsteps, on park benches, and stuffed in unlocked cars and open mailboxes, all true. The zucchini is truly the master of stealth and abundance.
If you feel like you have failed in the green thumb department you should definitely try growing zucchini. You need to keep a watchful eye after they bloom, because you will want to catch them early when they are about 20 centimeters long. At this size, they are sweet, the seeds are small, and the skins are tender.
Lift up the leaves to check regularly or you will surely get a huge surprise, they seem to grow over night. There are many summer squash that grow well in the region including patty pan, scollopini, spaghetti and crooknecks, but there is nothing quite like the prolific trickster, the zucchini.
You may have heard the joke “What is a zucchini’s favourite sport?” Most people who don’t really understand zucchinis might answer “squash”.
But if you know the zucchini’s need for speed, you would know the answer is racing. In fact, zucchini racing is a fast growing fall fair phenomenon and there is a zucchini racing circuit across North America.
We have our own third annual Zucchini 500 right here on the Saanich Peninsula at the upcoming Saanich Fair this Labour Day weekend. It’s a chance to see this underrated vegetable in all its glory careening down the track, with thrills, spills and a chance to see total wreckage. Spelt’s Service Station sponsors the prizes, and if you qualify, you can win seeds to grow your own zucchini racer to enter next year. Could you be the next champion?
Find CRFAIR and the Peninsula and Area Agriculture Commission at our tent by the main stage to see a wide range of squash you can grow here, and get some great recipes. If you dare, decorate your zucchini and see if you have what it takes to create the fastest zucchini in town.
The Saanich Fair is an authentic old time fair celebrating local agriculture held on Sept. 3-5 at the Saanich Fairgrounds. Come join us each day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. beside the main stage for the Zuchinni 500 Races.
Linda Geggie is the executive director with the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.