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My garden shows up in these posts every once in a while, probably because there’s not a lot of excitement in my nice, comfortable life. Well, you take your pleasures as they come.

For years now, I’ve planted a little veggie garden in the back yard. You know, just a couple of tomatoes, some peppers, maybe some squash. A few years ago, I decided to plant two kinds of squash, yellow crookneck and dark green zucchini. I could just slice them up together and have a colorful side dish, right? The urban gardener feels very noble having produced food without a trip to the market. Well, as it happens, that worked out perfectly all that summer. I usually had a preponderance of zucchini, but the extras were great just quartered lengthwise, slathered with olive oil and popped on the grill. You can’t get much easier than that. When summer came to an end and the vines withered and got scraggy-looking, I dug them out and tossed them on the compost.

Right here I want to tell you that these vines do compost eventually. One little thing you might want to remember, though. If there is any chance that a stray squash seed could possibly—ever—with no encouragement whatever—sprout…it will! Actually, you’d think that isn’t a bad thing at all. Just spread your nice sifted, no-seeds-visible compost on the ground next year, and voila! New squash plants, and for free!

The interesting thing here is that those squash plants, which came up healthy and robust in the second summer, produced no zucchini and no yellow crooknecks. What appeared, instead, was some sort of hybrid: fast-growing, chartreuse squashes with kind of lemon-y yellow spots and splashes. We weren’t sure what to make of this strange critter, but when I cooked that first one just as I would regular zucchini, it tasted the same. We ate those squash all summer.

The next year I was prepared for something surprising. I kept one patch free to accept whatever the compost pile would provide. I mixed in the stuff and watered it, and within a few days I had tomato plants (of course) and the tiny beginnings of a squash plant. Or maybe cucumber, or cantaloupe. Sometimes it’s hard to tell until the first blossoms appear. And the eventual squash? Nothing I’d ever seen. It was pale green, with little white spots scattered over the skin like stars on a dark night.

Well, that’s the kind that’s been showing up lately. This year I decided to do something different with them, though, and that’s led to the Great Microwave Pickle Adventure. We’ve had dill pickles, sweet pickles, bread and butter pickles…made not with cucumbers, but with what I’ve started calling “z-ellow” squash—a new word to denote a hybrid of zucchini and yellow. It works for me. The alternative would be yucchini (for yellow and zucchini, of course) but somehow that one isn’t terribly appetizing. The pickles, however, are really quite tasty.



I haven’t yet figured out what I’ll do when the next squash variation comes up, or what to call it. We’ll just have to wait and see.

I’ll see you again, after the commercial.