But: there is a problem with all the zucchini I've ever tried. Right when they are hitting their stride and producing away, a devilish little insect called the squash vine borer suddenly causes them to wilt, collapse, and die. These noxious little beasts don't eat the leaves like most insect pests – no, the larva burrow through and eat the stem, right at the base of the plant. In other words: They munch away at the one place where a little damage can kill the entire plant, bringing the zucchini harvest to a screeching halt. I've not seen any scientific studies on this, but personally I'm convinced the borers do this out of a twisted desire to ruin my summer. You can bet that if zucchini was a weed, they wouldn't be so eager to eat it. Rotten borers.
I hate squash vine borer. Either I spend most of the summer picking all their wretched little eggs off my plants, or they ruin my zucchini season half way through the summer. So I was excited this winter to learn that I may have an alternative. Zucchini (along with acorn, spaghetti, and delicata squash) is derived from the species Cucurbita pepo – a species that squash vine borers happen to adore. Cucurbita moschata, the species which produces butternut squash, however, is resistant to borers. Butternuts are one of my favorite winter squashes – delicious and sweet -- but they are hardly a replacement for zucchini. At least that is what I thought. This year I learned of a variety of C. moschata called Zucchetta rampicante tromboncino (picture from Washington State Extension) a long,
stretched out butternut intended to be eaten young, as a summer squash (though you can apparently eat at the end of the season as a winter squash too). Could this be it? A borer resistant zucchini? Well, we shall see.The reviews on Dave's Garden are overwhelmingly positive, though one person mentions a problem with borers! NO!!! I'm going to be growing it along with Costata Romanesco this year, comparing how they do with borers, and and putting them head-to-head in a taste test. Hopefully, the crazy new squash with the too long name will become my new favorite and I can kiss squash vine borers goodbye!