Pattypan Squash – a great summer squash
Pattypan squash is a type of summer squash (species Cucurbita pepo) that is easy to grow and is worth a try this summer. In different parts of the country they are called sunburst squash, scallop squash, button squash, or white squash. I saw them listed as “pepo” in a Mexican grocery store once. It can be used in much the same way as any other summer squash, like zucchini. It great sliced and fried in butter, stuffed, or grilled. It is sometimes even pickled. I have been growing them for years and have had great success with them.
According to Wikipedia: “The name “pattypan” derives from “a pan for baking a patty.” Its French name, pâtisson, derives from a Provençal word for a cake made in a scalloped mould. The pattypan squash is also known as scallop squash, granny squash, custard marrow, or custard squash.”
There are several varieties of pattypan squash ranging from white to bright yellow to green. They should be started well after the last frost and after the soil has warmed. They generally grow in a bush form, rather than a vine, so they are great for those who don’t have much room or for growing in containers. They benefit from adding compost or manure to the soil and do well when kept well watered and weeded. Plant the seeds directly in the soil and keep the plants 2 to 3 feet apart. They grow rather quickly, maturing in about 50 or so days.
Photo courtesy of: Our Edible Suburb
Pests that attack pattypan squash are pretty much the same as other cucurbits. Squash bugs, striped cucumber beetles and the squash vine borers are the most common pests you may encounter. The cucumber beetles can be picked off by hand. If you see your pattypan plants suddenly wilting it may be squash vine borers or squash bugs. You may control these by using neem oil or other organic type insecticide but if your plants are wilting it may be too late. Clearing debris around your plants discourages these pests as they lose any place to hide.
Powdery mildew may sometimes attack the squash plants. It will appear as a dusty covering on the leaves. This may be prevented by siting plants where they will have good air circulation, and exposing as much leaf surface as possible to direct sunlight, which inhibits spore germination. Spraying plants with a little baking soda dissolved in water will also slow the spread of the disease. Pick off any affected leaves and burn or throw them away.
Pattypan squash are generally picked when they are kind of small. As with zucchini, if they are left to get large they become woody and seedy. They can be stored for several days in a refrigerator but do not store well over the long term as a winter squash will. The plants will rapidly set fruit after flowering and the fruit itself will grow quite quickly. Attention therefore should be paid to your pattypan plants.
I will be growing a couple of different varieties of pattypan out at the farm this summer including “Y Star” from Johnny’s Selected Seed and “Organic Benning’s Green Tint” from High Mowing Organic Seed.
Johnny’s Selected Seed: http://www.johnnyseeds.com/
High Mowing Organic Seeds: http://www.highmowingseeds.com/