I have been something of a Squash Nerd this year. I've always tried to grow squash but haven't usually been very successful. I've had trouble with germinating, and transplanting, and flowering, and pollinating, and ripening. Basically I've had trouble with just about every stage of a squash's development from seed packet to dinner plate.
But I've learned a thing or two along the way. Like the fact that squash don't take to being transplanted, and that even if I'm really excited about things growing in the springtime, the squash plants aren't necessarily as excited and won't grow until they're good and ready. So now I seed them directly into the garden, a few weeks later than I used to.
And I learned about male flowers and female flowers and the whole process of pollination. I still haven't figured out why one day there will only be male flowers, and the next day only female, but I suppose Mother Nature has the right to a few mysteries.
So this year, armed with my hard-won experience, I dosed the squash beds with a generous amount of fish compost (a splurge, but so worth it), waited until the weather warmed up before seeding, and checked on the progress of the plants day by day.
They began to flower about two weeks ago, and since then, every morning I have made the trek back to the vegetable garden to search out male flowers which I would pluck, strip of petals, and then carry around from bed to bed looking for female flowers to pollinate. And of course looking for signs of success from the previous days' pollinating ventures.
So when my zucchini plant produced its first zucchini I was thrilled. I cut it off the bush, carried it proudly in the house, sliced it and marinated it in a lovely vinaigrette, ate the whole thing in one sitting, and then began waiting for the next one.
Apparently a watched zucchini plant is something like a tea kettle, because it has since produced nothing. Some flowers, which I have faithfully pollinated, but every morning as I have looked under the big leaves for any sign of an impending zucchini, there has been nothing but disappointment.
Which is why I was a little surprised to find this yesterday.
Did it grow that big in one day? I don't think so. So where, exactly, was it hiding?