Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Amazing Romanesco Zucchini of 2013 (aka QuadraZuke)

It all started nearly 8 months ago, back on March 21 when I sowed my zucchini seeds into 1-quart pots made from repurposed yogurt containers. The poor little seeds got off to a slow start and didn't get to be large enough to plant out until April 12. Here they are, just little babies with one true leaf on each plant. The Romanesco plant is in the back and the plant in the foreground is Ortolano di Faenza.

April 12

Twelve days later the plants are sporting a few more leaves but are still small.

April 24
I finally harvested the first zucchini on May 21. I don't remember how I prepared it, but I do remember that it was a welcome treat after lots of beets and various greens.

May 21, the first Romanesco zucchini harvest.

The plant is still fairly small that day, but the promise of more zucchini to come is quite evident. My harvest of Romanesco zucchini for May was 4 zucchini for a total of 1.1 pounds.

May 21
A month later and the plant has burgeoned, look at those zucchini coming along. This is the main branch. It is growing almost straight up at this time. You can see a second branch creeping along off to the left. If you look closely you can see a really small zucchini just behind the big zucchini on the right, that's the third branch. And look down below the stalk of the main branch, there's some small foliage, that's the fourth stalk. When that fourth stalk started to produce I started calling this plant QuadraZuke.

June 25

Here's another view of branches One and Two.

June 25

The flowers on the third branch are peeking through the foliage behind the Ortolano di Faenze plant. The plant was already very productive, I harvested 14.6 pounds of zucchini in June.

June 25
 July 18 and the plant is bigger than ever, although I can still get by it on the narrow path.

July 18
The zucchinis are getting to be huge and I'm having a hard time keeping up with the harvests. If I wait one day they get to be huge. The three main stalks produce a zucchini each almost every day, the fourth stalk is shaded by the main stalk and only produces an occasional zucchini. The Romanesco zucchini harvest jumps to 22.7 pounds for the month of July.

July 29

A month later I can barely squeeze by the plant and I'm having to direct the second stalk towards the edge of the bed.

August 29
I'm also becoming much better at harvesting the zucchini at the optimal time which happens to be in the afternoon of the day when the blossoms have opened. Wait a day and they just about double in size. The August harvest is larger than ever in spite of harvesting the zucchini at a smaller size and not even including the "canoes" in the harvest tally. The total for the month was 27.5 pounds.

September 14
Lose track of one in the foliage for a few days and they turn into potential canoes.

September 14

Near the end of September the plants are growing out and down the side of the bed. The deer have figured out that they can nibble on the foliage that bumps up against the fence. They don't manage to nibble the actual zucchini. I placed a piece of hardware cloth between the fence and the plant to deter the deer. I can't squeeze past the plant without damaging it anymore. Production is slowing down in September though, the shorter days are slowing the growth of the plant and the formation of zucchinis. But the harvest is still a quite generous 16.6 pounds.

September 24
One month later the plant is finally showing the ravages of a powdery mildew infection. Earlier in the season I was cutting off the occasional leaf that showed signs of PM, but after a while I gave up. The plant has been remarkably resistant to the disease and I never gave it any sort of treatment to fight it. Now, finally, with shorter days and cooler nights the disease is finally catching up.

October 24
 But the new leaves and zucchini seem to be unaffected by PM so far. Here's the main stalk, having grown down the side of the nearly 2 foot tall bed it is making its way across the path.

October 24

The plant is looking increasingly sorry now but it's still managing to produce a respectable crop. It's not like the nearly one-a-day-per-branch of July and August, more like one every 3 days per branch. The harvest total for October falls to 11.3 pounds.

This week I started (finally) my fall garden cleanup. I pulled out the Ortolano di Faenza zucchini which hadn't produced a decent zucchini in a few weeks and I started trimming the leaves from the Romanesco zucchini. I didn't have the heart to yank out the Romanesco plant though because it is still producing. This is the healthiest of the branches, probably because it gets the most sun now.

November 13
November 13

November 13

But the other branches are still producing new zucchinis as well in spite of the quickly advancing powdery mildew. Look at the PM on the leaf stalks. It looks so strange in contrast to the vibrant green of the zucchinis.

November 13

Poor old valiant QuadraZuke, it's looking a little naked now.

November 13
I just harvested four more zucchini off of the plant though.

November 13

Today's harvest has pushed the official tally from this plant up to 98.5 pounds for the year.

November 13

I think I should give it a chance to hit the 100 pound mark. What do you think?

I've mentioned this before, this is an F1 variety and if you are interested in growing it you can get the seeds from Renee's Garden Seeds.

Oh, did I forget to mention that this zucchini is not only easy to grow, but it's delicious too. Here's links to some zucchini recipes that I enjoy:

From my recipe blog. Including Zucchini Hummus, Zucchini Gazpacho, Zucchini Tart, and more.
Zucchini Saltimboca

But wait, there's more, only I don't have links for them yet, sorry...

Zucchini gratins
Stuffed zucchini blossoms
Puree of Zucchini
Chocolate Zucchini Cake


  1. Wow amazing plant, I would love to grow it but don't have the space, bet you'll hit the 100 lb mark soon.

  2. Go for the century mark! If it just a tad more than 100 lbs, that's great, but then I think you can thank that vine and let it compost. I found your blog last year, when I was in Maui, but now I'm putting down roots in the mid-coastal area of Oregon. You have a lot of great information in your blog - thanks for the terrific work!

  3. I need to find that zucchini. Mine never produce well. Of course 100 lbs of zucchini sound painful to me too, but then I'm not a big zucchini fan. I used to love it when I could pair it with tomatoes, but without them I haven't found a good way to use lots that I like.

  4. Impressive, especially considering it's all from just one plant! The Costata Romanesco we grow is an heirloom rather than a hybrid, and though less productive, just enough to keep up with...

  5. Amazing. That is one hard working plant. My zucchini always seem to succumb to mildew by mid summer. I'll have to seek out this variety.

  6. OK, I have added this one to my 2014 growing list. That is truly amazing production! I had great luck with my Striata D'Italia this year, but nowhere close to 100 pounds.


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