Patty pan squash, also known as scallop squash, is a lesser-known cultivar of the summer squash (Cucurbita pepo), the species that also includes zucchini and crook-neck squash.The scalloped flying saucer shape makes them a bit of a novelty and a little difficult to slice, but patty pan squash grow, cook, and eat much like any other summer squash. If you harvest them young, there's no peeling or cutting required—just cook them by any method you like and eat the whole thing.
Kids are sometimes more tempted to try patty pans, because of their fun shape. You can begin to harvest and eat them when they're only a couple of inches in diameter, making them a perfect choice for an individual serving.
Most patty pan squash varieties have a semi-bush growth habit, so the vines are not as long as with other squash varieties. While the vines and leaves look much like any other squash plant, the fruits of patty pan squash look like flattened balls with scalloped edges. They can be almost white, green, yellow or some combination of those colors. The leaves are lobed and somewhat abrasive, which is typical of squash plants. It's advisable to wear gloves when harvesting if your hands are sensitive.
Like any summer squash, patty pans are normally planted in the spring when the soil has warmed up to at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Germination-to-harvest takes 45 to 70 days for the first fruit to be ready, depending on variety.
|Botanical Name||Cucurbita pepo var. clypeata|
|Common Name||Patty pan squash, scallop squash|
|Plant Type||Annual vegetable|
|Size||2 to 3 ft.; 3- to 5-ft. spread|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun to part shade|
|Soil Type||Rich, well-drained loam|
|Soil pH||Slightly acidic (6.1 to 6.5)|
|Hardiness Zones||2 to 11 (annual in all zones)|
How to Plant Patty Pan (Scallop) Squash
Summer squash basically grows itself. Wait until the soil has warmed and then direct seed in the garden. You can start seeds indoors, four to six weeks before your transplant date, but direct-seeded plants will quickly catch up. Plant seeds about 1 inch deep. Squash is often planted in hills, or clusters, with two to three seeds per hill; space the hills 2 to 3 feet apart. Each hill can be thinned to one or two plants once the seedlings are 2 to 3 inches tall. Early plants can become exhausted due to heavy fruit set, so a second planting in mid-summer will keep your garden producing into fall.
If planting in rows, space plants around 10 inches apart, with 3 feet between rows. Give your plants plenty of room to roam. Although patty pan vines are not as long as some squash vines, they can still spread up to 6 feet.
Squash plants have both male and female blossoms and they both need to be present for pollination to occur. Having multiple plants will increase the chance of pollination.
Patty Pan Squash Care
Summer squash grows best and sets the most fruit in full sun, but they can handle part shade locations.
Patty pan squash does best in rich, well-drained soil. Patty pan will grow in most good soils but prefers a soil pH that is slightly acidic, from 6.1 to 6.5.
Keep the vines well watered, especially when in bloom and producing. If they experience too much drought, patty pans will drop their flowers and fruits. Mulching helps keep the shallow root system cool and moist. Straw is great to use as a mulch to keep the fruits dry and clean, but any mulch will do.
Temperature and Humidity
Summer squash grows best at temperatures from 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Even more important is that soil temperature has reached at least 65 degrees before planting. Summer squash, including patty pans, may slow down their production in the hottest days of summer, resuming vigorous production in early fall.
Side dress with compost or fertilize every four weeks while the plants are producing flowering and fruiting.
Patty Pan Squash Varieties
If you think you'd like to add some patty pan plants to your garden, you can start by checking out the following varieties:
- ‘Patty pan/scallop’ is the name given to the pure species variation; it is a very dependable choice. The fruit is usually pale green.
- ‘Flying saucer’ has fruit with green centers with a ring of yellow. The fruits are dense with a nutty flavor.
- ‘Pattison panache’ is a pale green French heirloom. It is best picked young.
- ‘Sunburst’ is a former All America Selection. Fruits are bright yellow and very tender, especially when picked early. Seedling to harvest requires 52 days.
- 'Peter Pan' has a meaty fruit that is light green in color. It takes 50 days to grow and harvest.
- ' Scallopini' has dark green speckled skin similar to a zucchini, with a sweet, nutty flavor. It requires 52 days to grow and harvest.
- 'Sunny Delight' has butter-yellow fruit that is especially flavorful. This hybrid requires 45 frost-free days to mature.
Check the days to maturity for the variety you are growing, but most are ready to harvest in 45 to 70 days. The fruits can start to be picked when they are about 2 inches in diameter and they will remain tender until they reach a 4-inch diameter. Each squash weighs less than 1 pound. Check your summer squash daily, as they can reach harvest size within four days of flowering.
The odd shape of patty pan squash can confound cooks. You can avoid the whole problem of how to slice patty pan squash by cooking them whole. Whole squash can be steamed over boiling water until tender, which takes about four to six minutes, depending on size.
You can also roast patty pans, although they cook more evenly if you slice them in half first. Place the pieces on a baking sheet and roast on the top rack for about 10 to 15 minutes at 420 degrees Fahrenheit until tender. You can coat with olive oil or butter and season to taste beforehand if you choose.
If you want to be brave and slice your patty pans, feel free to slice them any way you like. You can slice through the diameter, dice them into chunks or simply scoop out the cooked flesh. There’s no right or wrong way to slice this vegetable.
Patty pan squash also makes great little edible serving bowls. Scoop out the centers, either before or after cooking, and fill with a stuffing of your choice.
Common Pests and Diseases
Like other squash, patty pans can be subject to some common pest and disease problems:
- Cucumber beetles feed on seedlings and mature leaves, blossoms, and fruits. They can also spread bacterial wilt and mosaic virus. They will overwinter nearby and can produce several generations per season. Rotate crops to prevent major infestations.
- Squash bugs are small gray or brown insects that feed on leaves, causing them to wilt. Although they prefer winter squash, squash bugs will also kill young summer squash vines. Neem oil is a good organic treatment; diatomaceous earth sprinkled over the soil also keeps them away.
- Squash vine borer larvae bore into the base of the stem and feed there until mature, cutting off the vine circulation. There is no cure once the plant is affected, but squash vine borer can be prevented by spraying plants with BT (Bacillus thuringiensis), a natural bacteria.
- Powdery mildew can affect the leaves of the plants during humid summers. It won't kill the plants, but it will weaken them and diminish fruiting. You can use either the baking soda spray or milk remedy to get rid of it.