One zucchini, two zucchini, three zucchini, four…

Zucchini, like other squashes, originated in the Americas.

Early Europeans (Christopher Columbus for one) brought seeds back to Italy, where it was enthusiastically embraced and cultivated for several centuries, then exported back to North America.

A squash, by any other name…

The name comes from the Italian zucchino, which means “small pumpkin.” (Zucca is Italian for pumpkin.)  Zucchino would be the singular, with zucchini as the plural.

This is way too complicated for many Americans, so, like spaghetti or fettuccini, we just say zucchini for singular or plural. Or if we’re really having an American day, we can get away with “zucchinis” when referring to more than one fruit.

a zucchini in hand

Zucchini complexities

But this plant’s name confusion doesn’t stop here. When first marketed in the United States, it was called Italian squash. The French call it courgette (which is also what they call yellow squashes).

zucchini

The British also call it courgette. In Australia, Canada and Germany, though, it’s back to zucchini.

Mexicans calll it la calabacita, which means “little squash.” Argentinians say el zapallito largo, which sort of translates as “big little shoe.”

But the Indians in those area originally called it skutasquash, with a translation that roughly means “that green thing that we eat green.”

Whatever you call it

When it comes to my summer garden, one of my favorite veggies to plant is that green thing that we eat green.

From the first beautiful bloom to the final fruit, zucchini grows quickly and gives a high yield. The plants themselves like to sprawl. The first time I planted zucchini, the seed packet recommended 18 inches between plants. I wanted more, so I seeded every 4 inches. Twenty-four plants popped up in a 4’x4′ bed. Of course, I ultimately removed all but two—they were choking the life out of each other!

Zucchini is always very good to me. I harvest this fruit all summer long. By end of season, I’m getting very creative in my uses for this versatile vegetable. But that’s a subject for another blog.


– Su Falcon, Editor in Chief
The Dirt on Organic Gardening Magazine