Best all-round squash/zuchinni or substitute??

castorpMay 13, 2008


Where I live it very difficult to grow regular summer squash and zuchinni. The summer humidity and the pickle worms do them in.

I am always looking for good substitutes, and because I have a small garden I'm looking for something very versitile.

I have read about various gourds (cucuzzi, edible bottle gourds) being used like squash; chayotes; and even green papayas.

I have been growing trombocini squash but this year they taste watery and mealy for some reason.

I'm looking for something with nice buttery texture and good flavor, but can stand up to humid subtropical climate.

Any suggestions?



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If you live as far south as I do most any Bush type squash won't make it as a moth lays eggs at the base of the plants and kills the plant. Tried once and got a couple before death. They say you can place blue foil around the base of the plant and they think it is the sky and won't land, but I have never tried this myself. Most any vine winter squash seems to do well. I enjoyed raising Butternut squash with no problems as well as acorn. If they take up too much room try staking them so that they grow up instead of out or just make sure you move them in the direction you would like them to grow. If you stake them and the fruit gets too big you may have to use pantyhose type supports, as with cantilope, etc.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 2:55PM
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It's six years after I first posted this, and I'm still looking for a good gourd, so I thought I'd bump this back up. Any suggestions?

I've tried smooth luffa, Tatumi (?), trombocini, cucuzzi, and maybe another type I can't remember. I haven't been satisfied with any of them, though Tatumi was probabably the best--before the pickle worms got them.



    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 6:53PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

My personal favorite zucchini substitute is tromboncino, since it is resistant to most of the bugs & diseases that can strike zucchini. Just picked a bucket full today.

I think you already hit the nail on the head with chayote. It thrives in hot, humid climates where frost is late or non existent. It is also perennial, and will get stronger every year. Quite a space hog, but if you have already grown cucuzzi, you probably have room for it. It will do its best if given a permanent trellis. When I grew it in SoCal, I used a large horizontal trellis suspended 6 feet above the ground, with fencing to train the young vines to the top. The vines spread out & completely covered the trellis, making a nice arbor... and when the squash appeared, they hung down from the trellis & were easy to pick. You need at least two vines for good pollination. After several years, getting 100 squash per vine is not out of the question.

You might also want to consider another tropical, perennial squash - Malabar gourd (a.k.a. fig leaf gourd, shark fin melon). Look up "shark fin melon" on this forum, there is a very informative thread (link below). You can eat the immature squash like summer squash, or let them mature. They take up a lot of space, more than even the most rampant winter squashes I've grown... and if allowed to sprawl, probably more than any other vegetable. The vines can be trained to climb, though.

Here is a link that might be useful: Shark fin melon

This post was edited by zeedman on Tue, Aug 26, 14 at 23:11

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 11:10PM
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Zeedman, thanks so much! Those shark fin melons sound fantastic! I'm going to try them in the spring.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 9:10AM
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Try Magda, a Lebanese courgette which by some reports has "no squash bug problems":

Magda at Seeds of India

There are many Indian varieties of squash on that site that you might consider. Snake gourd, in particular, is supposed to be very resistant to squash vine borers.

Also, members of the Cucurbita moschata group are supposed to be resistant to squash vine borers. Like butternut squash, which allegedly recovers well even if infected.

Since the larvae overwinter in the soil, try soil sterilization - cover the area where you grew squash last year with clear plastic mulch and let the sun cook the bejeezus out of the little buggers. But the moths can still fly in from other areas. Still, rotation of squash plants and soil sterilization of last year's squash plot could cut down on the numbers.

The only sure-fire way to foil them seems to be using row covers.

I haven't been able to grow zucchini since they took my rotenone away, but I've read reports that spinosad and neem can be effective controls - but you have to spray the entire plant every 2 or 3 days.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2014 at 7:46PM
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JCTsai(8B - Jacksonville, FL)

Try long squash, The plant is easy to grow and is almost free from disease and insect attacks..

    Bookmark   October 25, 2014 at 8:57PM
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