Scallop Squash Growing Tips: Learn About Patty Pan Squash Plants
Patty pan squash (Solanum melongena) is a member of the nightshade family. They are native to Asia, but have been cultivated in Europe since Roman times. Patty pans are popular in Asian cuisine, especially Chinese cooking.
They are often used as a garnish or side dish for dishes such as noodle soups and stir fries. Patty pans are usually cooked with soy sauce, sugar, vinegar and other seasonings. Patty pans are very versatile because they grow well in almost any climate. They can be grown indoors or outdoors and will produce fruit year round if properly cared for. Patty pans require little care once established; however, they do need regular pruning to keep them healthy and vigorous.
Growing Patty Pan Squash
Patty pans prefer full sun and moderate temperatures. They like moist soil and will thrive in a rich loam mix. If allowed to become too dry, they may drop their leaves and die back from lack of moisture.
Patty pans are not frost tender so long as the soil remains moist throughout the summer months.
Patty pans can be planted directly in the ground. To maximize space, start your seeds indoors under lights 6 to 8 weeks before the last expected frost. Transplant your seedlings when they have at least two sets of true leaves.
Space your plants about a foot apart in rows spaced 2 feet apart.
When it comes to feeding your plants, use a mulch instead of chemical fertilizers. A 3-inch deep layer of shredded bark or wood chips will provide a long lasting source of nutrients. If you prefer to use a chemical fertilizer, use a general-purpose formula such as 10-10-10 mixed at half the recommended rate.
Like most garden plants, patty pans can occasionally be affected by insects or disease. If you see any signs of damage, inspect your plants regularly and immediately remove and destroy any plants that show signs of damage. If you see any signs of pest infestation such as chewed leaves, damage to the plant structure or insects on the plants, use organic methods of control such as neem oil, insecticidal soap or a mix of garlic and cooking oil.
Harvesting Patty Pan Squash
Once your plants begin to flower, check the female flowers to see if they are forming a mature fruit (this can be difficult since the male and female flowers look similar at first). If the fruit is a good size and a deep yellow color (some varieties turn green when ripe), the fruit is ready to be picked.
Patty pan are very susceptible to damage once the fruit starts to ripen so you will need to pick the fruit every day. Most gardeners pick the fruit as soon as it is mature enough to eat. This prevents having patty pans getting too large and having them fall off the vine before they are ripe.
If you let patty pans get too ripe on the vine the thin skin will turn brown and split open. If you plan to store your patty pans for later, leave them out in a well ventilated area and check them daily. As soon as you see any sign of splitting or softness, it’s time to eat them up!
You can store your patty pans in a paper bag in the fridge for up to a week. Do not wash your patty pans before storing them. Any extra moisture will only cause them to spoil more quickly.
One of the most common problems that affect patty pan squash is losing fruit to insects. Squash bugs are one of the biggest offenders. These small, brown, narrow bodied insects pierce the stems of your patty pan plants and will completely devour all the inside flesh leaving only a hollowed out shell.
They also like to hide under the patty pan leaves so check there as well. You can use a soap and water solution to wash any adults or nymphs off the plant. If you catch them early enough you can eradicate an infestation completely.
Squirrels and birds will also eat your patty pans as soon as they start to ripen. There isn’t much you can do about this except to cover your garden with netting or fencing. Netting is less obtrusive and easier to put up but the fencing is usually more effective at scaring off larger pests.
Pest issues are more of a problem when growing patty pans in an outdoor garden, but even indoor patty pan gardens can suffer from pest infestation. Ants, for instance, are attracted to the sugar content of the fruit and will gladly take advantage of any ripe fruit that falls on the floor or is otherwise accessible. You can spray your plants with something toxic to discourage them from taking a bite out of your garden.
Harvesting patty pan is simple but requires care. The fruit is ready to be picked when its skin turns a rich, vibrant yellow without any hint of green or if it feels soft when you give it a gentle squeeze. Unripe patty pans can be tough and sour in your cooking so make sure to pick them when they’re ready.
Spinach is a cool season vegetable that can be grown all year round in the right conditions. It is a very nutritious food that can be eaten raw in a salad or cooked as a side dish or main course ingredient. It has a high content of Vitamin A, C and K as well as iron and other minerals.
Spinach likes growing in moist soil so you will need to keep the soil slightly damp while the seeds are sprouting. Because of this, it’s a good idea to use trays or pots when growing spinach rather than direct sowing.
Spinach is a weedier plant than other vegetables. It has very fine seeds and even just a couple can result in a huge patch of the stuff! If you direct sow your spinach seeds, you will have to thin the patch out later which can be a pain, so it’s best to start off with trays or pots and then transplant the largest seedlings into your main garden beds.
Spinach grows very quickly so it’s important to keep an eye on it and give it plenty of water. It can wilt easily if it doesn’t receive enough water which can make it bitter tasting.
Spinach can be harvested in as little as 6 weeks and can continue to be harvested as long as you keep replacing the plants as they are harvested.
As with all leafy greens, spinach should not be washed. It should be wiped with a damp cloth or sponged if really dirty. Lettuce is a good substitute for spinach if you can’t grow it for some reason.
Strawberries are easy to grow and taste delicious. They’re a favorite among gardeners and the fruit is popular among humans and animals alike. The plant itself has decorative round leaves and gives off a sweet fragrance.
The fruit is red and heart-shaped. It can be eaten fresh or used in cooking and baking. It is a favorite fruit for use in shortcakes and other baked goods.
Strawberries prefer growing in fertile, well drained soil. The plants themselves have small root systems so the plants should be spaced a couple of feet apart. They can grow in small containers but they will need to be transplanted into the ground eventually.
Sources & references used in this article:
Species and varietal crosses in cucurbits by AT Erwin, ES Haber – Bulletin, 2017 – lib.dr.iastate.edu
Vegetables: growing squash in home gardens by MR Bush, AK Combe – 2013 – research.libraries.wsu.edu
The gourd book by M Bush, A Combe – 2013