Zucchino Rampicante Squash
If you can only plant one squash plant, this may be the one for you.
Let me tell you why I like Zucchino Rampicante squash (a.k.a. Tromboncino squash). It is both a summer squash AND a winter squash. If you pick it while it is green, it tastes like a mild zucchini. Great steamed, sautéed, grilled, fried, in baked goods or casseroles. If you leave it on the vine until fall, it becomes like a Butternut squash. One plant; two types of harvest. If you only have room for one type of squash, but really like both the summer and winter varieties, you can have the proverbial cake and eat it too! However, there is a caveat: this plant is a sprawler and it will morph into something akin to the Blob.
This is my second year growing this Cucurbiteae variety and typically I only grow one plant. I plant two but will remove one once I am sure the strongest of the two will survive. I use the direct sow method and plant in mid-June. By planting later in the season, the dreaded squash bugs are not as much as a problem. Which by the way, had wiped out all of my crooked yellow squash and black beauty zucchini plants by the beginning of July. The squash bugs have been a problem for the last few years, decimating everything before anything can be harvested. It was the frustration of dealing with the bugs that led me to seek another variety of squash for my garden.
My hardiness zone is closer to 7a, but can sometimes be 6b and this plant has done well for me. It is a quick growing vine, that will take over and sprawl about if allowed. My panels are 10 x 6 foot chain link fence and they do a good job supporting the heavy fruit. Livestock panels would support this vine, but I am not sure about welded wire mesh unless supported by heavy T-posts no more than eight feet apart.
The fruit gets very large. If supported on a large trellis or fence, the squash will grow straight. If left on the ground, they will grow in round, curlicue shapes. As you can see, I trellised mine. Most of them are over 6 feet long and weigh several pounds (close to 10 lbs.). In fact, the larger ones are actually quite heavy.
Harvested squash can be stored in a cool, dry place such as a basement that doesn’t get below 50 degrees. Or maybe a spare bedroom that has the heat vents closed off so that it remains cool.
I have stored this squash in my basement for up to 6 months. We were eating last year’s squash in early April of this year. Just remember to check on them to make sure they are not deteriorating. If so, use them first. If you are not in the mood for squash at that time, prepare as you would for any other winter squash in freeze to use later.
What can you do with this behemoth squash?
Well, just about anything you might do with any summer or winter squash. As I mentioned above, the possibilities are endless. In addition, the male blossoms are edible and the seeds can be roasted. I love the fact that this vegetable is so versatile. You could substitute zucchino rampicante in most of your favorite recipes. For instance, I decided I wanted some “pumpkin” butter and decided to make it with what I had on hand, my mondo-squash.
The process was fairly easy. I took two of them and steamed them for a few minutes. I had gotten a new steamer pot and wanted to try it out. I steamed until the pieces were fork-tender. Meaning, I could prick them with a fork without a lot of resistance.
Then I peeled the pieces, mashed them with a potato masher, and placed in the crockpot. I added 2 cups packed brown sugar, and 2 and 1/2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice and set the crockpot on Low. This will cook down for several hours until thickened.
The house is beginning to smell “Ahhhmazing” on this dreary, rainy, October day.
Keeps on Giving!
One of the things I have not mentioned yet is all of the seeds are contained in the bulb portion of the squash. This makes cleaning it so much easier than some of the other winter squash varieties. You can roast the seeds although I have not done so. I have roasted butternut squash and of course, pumpkin! I will be feeding these to the wildlife on our farm. Cardinals love the seeds, as do the squirrels, deer, and raccoons. If I had chickens, I would feed them to the chickens.
And finally, a few of the peels will go in my worm bins, the rest will go out in the garden compost.
The more I grow this squash, the more I like it’s versatility, it’s durability, and it’s productivity. One plant produces more than enough squash for us to use fresh, in soups, desserts, casseroles, as a side dish, baked goods, etc.
If you are interested in trying this variety in your garden, I purchased my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I am not an affiliate, and I do not receive any compensation from this company. I hope you will give this interesting squash a try and let me know how it grows for you. Maybe share how you used in in some recipes.
Thank you for stopping by our farm.