Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Zucchini Paradox

A paradox is a statement which apparently contradicts itself and yet might be true.

For example, consider the circumstance in which a father and son are driving down the highway. The car leaves the road and crashes into a tree and the father is killed. The boy is rushed to the nearest hospital where he is prepared for emergency surgery. On entering the surgery suite, the surgeon says, "I can't operate on this boy. He is my son."  Think about this for a minute and we will come back to the resolution at the end of this post.

One paradox we all know in the garden is the fact that summer squash or zucchini is one of the most productive of the garden plants and just a few plants can produce hundreds of pounds of zucchini in just a few days. Yet we plant several rows 300 feet long, roughly 1000 row feet of zucchini (enough to fill my pick-up several times a week) and we sometimes barely have enough to serve our customers. and this week ran out about half way through the farmers market. That is the paradox.

I will explain the paradox by first telling a story.

Ten years ago I was at a business dinner at what is now 300 First in Rochester. It is a upscale restaurant and most of us ordered a nice steak. I happened to get a side dish of summer squash. But these weren't just any ordinary zucchini these were "baby baby zucchini" about the size of the baby carrots that are so popular today. What! Zucchini the size of baby carrots you say. Yep. Well must be some weird dwarf "vegetable freak" variety. Nope. Turns out these were normal, regular, full sized zucchini. Could be green, yellow or patty pan.

I'd never heard of such a thing, but here was the evidence right in front of me and they tasted pretty good.

We were growing some pickling cucumbers that year and we picked them three times a week.
Maybe that approach would be a good place to start.

So I planted a 200 foot row of zucchini and we started our trial. Sure enough it worked. By picking small 3 times a week you could keep them very small.

But would anyone buy them?  Turns out they were quite popular, But only after you explained what they were for most of a season and explained how to use them about a thousand times.

We also heard, "Ooooo these are cute....what are they???" about a thousand times too.

So instead of "Peter Piper Picking a Peck of Pickled Peppers", Peter now picks some "Pretty Small Patty Pans".

So the paradox of the world covered with zucchini is really not a paradox at all if you pick them very small. You can do this at home too and have some wonderful tender squash for your table. By the way the squash blossoms are might tasty too.

Oh, I promised to explain the boy and the surgeon.

If it hadn't occurred to you yet, the Surgeon is the boys mother. Yeah, I'll have to admit I didn't get it the first time either.

Paradoxically yours....Brian

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