At Siskiyou Seeds each growing season we conduct a few variety trials to continue to learn how our varieties stack up against other commercially available strains and how they all perform with our climate, pests and diseases. Doing this work is vital to assess the merits of different cultivars and also to evaluate possible additions to our offerings. Vegetable variety trials are an opportunity to explore the culinary potential, flavor, texture and aromas possible within a given species.

In 2023, we conducted a summer squash variety trial with 17 summer squash varieties including all types we could locate: crooknecks, patty pans, straight green, straight yellow, round and more. We included the 6 varieties that we offer and 11 other commercial standards (both open pollinated and hybrid F1s.

What we learned

Because there was a wide diversity of types being compared, they each excelled in different regards. As expected, the hybrids were the first to mature, but our Golden Zucchini was right in there with an early maturity. The hybrids were otherwise lackluster compared to the heirlooms in terms of flavor. Our favorite flavor was the Yellow Crookneck, which had a sweetness that the others lacked. Yield was highest for the normal zucchini types but it was challenging to keep up with having them picked on a reliable schedule. To experienced gardeners this likely comes as no big surprise there when you consider that we had nearly 100 plants!) 

The non-green squash are much easier to see amidst the green leaf canopy and less apt to escape notice during harvesting rounds and grow to possibly titanic proportions. 

So while our overall highest ranking favorite was Yellow Crookneck: Costata Romanesco Zucchini, Cocozelle (which is a similar type to Costata) and Dark Star (our standard dark green) were all fabulous stand out as well. 




For our taste test, we invited friends over and prepared the summer squash sliced 1/2" thick, brushed with olive oil, lightly salted and grilled.

Flavor differences in summer squash are fairly subtle, but the main points of distinction that our tasters noted were texture and sweetness. The straight zucchini tended to have a more watery flavor, while patty pans had a delicate texture and the crooknecks - a sweetness. The patty pans needed to be harvested small as they quickly became tough and stringy, more so than the other types. 

The incredible variety

Development & Experimentation

As a fun final finale to this trial we allowed all of them to cross pollinate, thereby inter-mating to create what we have named "Compost Creature Mix" which holds the potential to grow into all manner of new forms such as a dark green crookneck, a stripped patty pan, or maybe even a bright gold round type. We did this process of picking the parents during ouFall Seed Academy here last October 2023. We've got plenty of seed and they should all become good eating summer squash because they flowered in isolation from pumpkins, Delicata and any other Cucurbita pepo squash that would otherwise cross pollinate with them. We are growing this mix out in 2024 to see what oddities emerge!

The Beauty & incredible productivity of summer squash - a garden workhorse!

Ronde de Nice
Costata Romanesco - perfect size to harvest!