I do not have a green thumb when it comes to gardening. I don’t grow many flowers because I usually end up killing them. They also don’t produce anything I can eat, so I tend to not put in as much time and energy with them as I should anyway. I have learned over the years to enjoy vegetable gardening however, because it does have an end goal, and I can utilize everything that I can get to grow to help feed our family.

We have had our garden in several different locations over the years. The first few years it was too shady, the next garden we had got lots of sun, but was set against a black wall and everything just cooked. Now we have it out in an open area. There is lots of sun all through the day, but there is also lots of airflow and no dark walls. But being open like it is we have also had problems with wildlife eating our plants. My zucchini in particular was a favorite of the rabbits for some reason. Even when I would get some to grow, the rabbits would eat anything the plant produced before it was ready to harvest.

This year we installed a fence around our above ground veggies. This includes the zucchini as well as the lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cabbage and peas. This has made the biggest difference in our above ground veggie production, more than anything else we have done. We also tested our soil and have been able to get the nutrients correct the last couple of years. These corrections and additions have led to a much more productive zucchini growing season. The plants are huge and healthy looking, and they are producing many zucchinis!

But, what to do with the zucchini? Over the years, as I have tried and tried to grow zucchini, I have looked up recipes at the beginning of the season, hopeful for the large amount of zucchini that everyone talks about. I have tasted different products from friends who have been successful and have gotten their recipes. I have purchase zucchini from the local farmer’s market so I could make some of these wonderful recipes. And finally, this year, I have been successful in growing 2 zucchini plants! They have been producing a good amount of zucchini, and I have been able to start making several of my favorite zucchini items.

The first thing I made this year was fried zucchini. I remember having this as a kid, who hated vegetables, but loved fried zucchini! I guess anything fried is great, even vegetables. I had made this before, but it was when my kids were really little, so they didn’t remember ever having had fried zucchini, but those willing to try it really liked it now. I used a recipe off of the internet, and they are all very similar, but I can’t remember which one, so I’ll let you research that if you’re interested. But it’s pretty basic, dip in flour, then to an egg wash, then to some sort of seasoned breadcrumbs, then fry.

The next thing I made was zucchini bread. I wasn’t even thinking in that direction as I have several preservation recipes I wanted to work on, but my kids made several requests for zucchini bread, so it had to be done. I used the recipe out of the Cooks Country cookbook, but there are so many recipes out there on the internet. I made 2 large loaves, and they didn’t last 2 days, so I think that was a great use for some of the zucchini. Hopefully we’ll be able to make a few more loaves before the end of the season.

Yesterday I started on the 3rd thing I wanted to make – zucchini relish. I made some of this relish a couple years ago, just a little bit, and it was a hit with the family, so I have wanted to make it again, and more than I made the first time so it would last a little longer. Yesterday ended up being the day. I had picked 4 zucchini a couple days prior. I checked the recipe and had to restock my spices and get some peppers on Monday. Tuesday morning, I was able to get started with the veggies, chopping and soaking in salt water for a couple hours, and then Tuesday afternoon I was able to get it cooked, bottled and processed. The recipe I used came from the Ball Blue Book for canning, but I looked today, and there are a lot of different recipes on the internet. Just remember to process and then water bath the jars for the correct amount of time for your area. I love this relish and use it in a variety of ways. One of my favorites is in egg salad sandwiches.

The last recipe I will be making with my zucchini is a salsa recipe. I tried zucchini salsa for the first-time last year, and it was so good! I bought zucchini and onions from my local farmers market and tomatoes and peppers from the grocery store and made 2 batches last fall. They are almost gone, and I am so excited to make more! This recipe also came off the internet so I will let you research zucchini salsa as none of the recipes are mine. I love zucchini, it is such a versatile plant. I love the savory items I can make with it, and love that it can also be made into sweet treats my family loves as well. If you don’t have a favorite zucchini recipe, try some of these things, and if you do, I would love to hear what you love making with zucchini!