A. There is a tiny insect that likes to feed on squash, somewhat like a mosquito. At the point where it punctures the squash’s skin, the plant secretes a sticky substance to “heal” the wound. My response: “Who says plants aren’t pretty smart?” .
Q. It seems like small squash are more likely to be sticky than larger squash?
A. Yes, that’s because the small squash have more tender skin that is easier for the insects to penetrate. As squash become older, their skins toughen, making them less vulnerable.
Q. Is the sticky secretion bad?
A. No. Generally, the insects don’t penetrate into the squash. So simply wash off the plant’s sticky secretion and the squash will be fine.
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. . . and Talk about Whether Baby Veggies Are Really the Best of All
Richard and Betty with their gorgeous cabbages. These two really know how to garden.
That got me thinking about some baby zucchini I had just cooked. They are supposed to be the most tender and flavorful, but quite frankly I was disappointed in my batch. While they were indeed tender, they didn’t have much flavor. After my conversation with Farmer Richard, I can see why. They had been picked too young, another reminder that there can always be too much of a good thing.
So like Goldilocks, look for produce that’s not too old, but not too young, either. Vegetables right in the middle are perfect.
When we visited Richard in late September, he was harvesting the last of his green beans. Filling a bag with tiny, thin beans for a customer who loved baby beans, he got to talking about baby produce. While Richard was happy to fill a special order of baby beans for his customer, in his opinion green beans taste much better when they are a little bigger.
While we all know to steer clear of old produce because it’s frequently tough and dry, I never considered that young produce has drawbacks, too. Pick it too soon and it hasn’t had a chance to fully develop its flavors. In this respect, vegetables are similar to fruit that must be ripen before achieving their best flavor.