Summer typically conjures up visions of tomatoes, stone fruits, and sweet corn. For some growers and gardeners, it’s also peak squash season too.
Whether you’re a squash fan, or new to this summer delight, Adelaide-based professional chef-turned-market gardener Jackson Bennett, shares his tips for growing and cooking it.
Patty pan squash, or custard marrow, is a variety of summer squash and the lesser known relative of the zucchini. It’s a vegetable that is either overlooked in the shops (if it’s stocked), or found in seasonal gardens and farmer’s markets.
After many years of growing zucchini, Jackson decided to grow squash for the first time this summer for his restaurant clientele and community-supported agriculture program, and has produced an impressive yield.
Jackson Bennett grew his first crop of squash this year.(ABC Everyday: Diem Tran)
Quick tips for growing squash
A visit to his urban farm in the suburbs of Adelaide finds the bright yellow, scalloped shaped treasures nestled in among tomatoes and marigolds — companion plants that help the squash thrive.
Patty pan plants are super leafy, like zucchini, and the leaves are large enough to help to shade the ground and retain moisture,” Jackson explains.
“Planting them next to tomatoes, in turn, creates shade for them, and marigold attracts pollinators whilst deterring pests.”
“They grow throughout spring and summer, and do really well in nutrient-rich, well-draining soil,” he adds.
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Good news for the curious gardener — there’s a later summer window to plant patty pans especially during our cooler-than-usual climes.
Once established, around 5–6 weeks, Jackson recommends picking produce daily when ready to encourage more growth, and to avoid watering the leaves as this can cause fungal issues like powdery mildew.
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