June 22, 2012

The First Female Zucchini Blossom and a Bit About Luffa and Bitter Melon

Can you see the tiny female flower with a tiny fuzzy baby zucchini attached to it?
A hill of cucumber plants with a single melon plant pictured at the bottom
Luffa plants starting to vine
Bitter melon vines are a bit grumpy from rough handling and weeding
The zucchini and summer squash are starting to form female flowers! The season of squash will soon be upon us. I am beyond thrilled considering last year not a single zucchini, summer squash, or patty pan was produced because of the infernal squash vine borers. Today, I saw the first squash vine borer moth outside the garden, it seemed like it was too big to get through the bird netting. Squash vine borers are red moths that look like red wasps and they fly around during the daytime laying a single egg at the base of plants. Infernal creatures. Alas, the bird netting doesn't extend over the back end of the garden where the wire fence is.

Three hills of cucumbers were planted and by the looks of it, they may be thinking about vining. Let's cross our fingers for loads of cucumbers this year. Cucumber and pineapple stir fry, baked stuffed cucumbers with cooked mushroom eggplant and ground pork, and fresh sweet pickled cucumbers here we come!

The two hills of luffa are starting to vine. Luffa belongs to the gourd family and come in smooth fruited varieties, or angled varieties which have long ridges. The young fruits are edible and may be cooked similarly to summer squash and cucumbers, and matured fruits can be used as exfoliating sponges. The angled loofah is too hard to peel so I'm growing a smooth variety.

The two hills of bitter melon are looking really good, they seem further along then the loofah. Bitter melon is quite the culinary treat. When they say bitter, they really mean bitter. Boiling the vegetable in a big pot of water helps to remove some of that knock you to your knees bitterness, then it can be sliced up and cooked with scrambled eggs or stuffed with ground pork and mushrooms and boiled in a new pot of water.


gardenglut said...

I love your pic of the zucchini, you can see the downyness, its really lovely.

I only recently had my first dish of luffa in a very good restaurant in Shanghai recently and it was great! I like the idea of a plant that is both a food and bath aid!

I can't say the same for bitter melon. It is a bit of an acquired taste I think. I actually like bitter things but bitter gourds is just a step to far for me.

Happy cucurbit growing!

Phuong said...

Luffa makes me laugh, since you can eat it or use it in the bathroom.

Bitter melon is definitely outrageously bitter, the quick pre-boiling before cooking does seem to help. I'm partly growing it for the novelty of the plant, it's so interesting when the fruit turns bright orange and then bursts open spilling out scarlet seeds.