How to Grow ‘Zephyr’ Summer Squash
Though I usually prefer heirlooms over hybrids, this is one of the few I make an exception for. I adore the tender, flavorful, and visually stunning summer squash I pick from my prolific ‘Zephyr’ plants.
The care and growth habit is similar to other bush summer squash like crooknecks and pattypans. Though squash tends to experience more pest and disease challenges in our area than other crops, it is definitely one of the easiest to get started. Many years I grow it as a short-term crop — I get it started on our frost-free date, harvest squash for a couple months or more, and then pull it when it starts to show so many problems it can no longer produce. The biggest culprits at my house are squash vine borers, powdery mildew, and downy mildew. It is common to also have trouble with squash leaf bugs in our area.
One of the nice (or not nice, depending on how much you love squash or hate harvesting) things about summer squash is that it produces like crazy, so you really get an excellent harvest in only a short period of time.
If you haven’t tried growing summer squash before, work your soil in the early spring and plan for each plant to have at least 4 square feet of space. It may seem like a lot, but squash will quickly grow to fill it, soon flopping disagreeably into your pathways. It doesn’t hurt to use low edge fencing to hold back the leaves from your walkways so that you’ll be able to reach it for harvesting.
Plant 2-4 seeds in each hole and thin them to one plant when they have at least 2 true leaves. Do not pull out the extra seedlings, simply cut the stem with scissors at the soil line. You don’t want to disturb the root system of the remaining seedling by yanking out the neighbors.
I dig 1/2 cup of my homemade slow-release organic fertilizer to the soil before planting my seeds out. You can also use store-bought to the manufacturer’s instructions.
After that, just keep them watered and don’t blink or the squash will grow to the size of giant’s clubs before you manage to pick them.
As far as I know ‘Zephyr’ squash is only available from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Use these squash in any recipe for summer squash (such as yellow crookneck squash).