Patty Pan Squash - Growing the Flying Saucer Shaped Patty Pan Squash

Patty Pan Squash
Photo: © Marie Iannotti

Overview and Description of Patty Pan Squash :

You might not guess by its looks, but patty pan, or scallop, squash is a tender summer squash, like zucchini or yellow squash. The scalloped flying saucer shape makes them a bit of a novelty and a little difficult to figure out how to slice, but they 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 them, because of their fun shape. You can begin to eat them when they are only a couple of inches in diameter, making them perfect for individual serving.

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.

Leaves: Lobed and somewhat scratchy, which is typical of squash plants.Wear gloves when harvesting, if your hands are sensitive.

Flowers: Flowers are yellow and edible. They are often left on smaller fruits and eaten.

Botanical Name:

Cucurbita pepo Most summer squashes belong in this species.

Common Name:

Patty Pan Squash, Scallop Squash

Exposure:

They'll grow best and set the most fruit in full sun, but they can handle partial shade.

Growing Tips for Patty Pan Squash:

Soil: Patty pan squash does best in a rich, well drained soil and plenty of sun.

Patty pan will grow in most good soils, but prefers a soil pH that is slightly acidic, about 6.1 to 6.5.

Planting: Summer squash basically grows itself. Wait until the soil has warmed and then direct seed in the garden. You could start seed indoors, 4 - 6 weeks before your transplant date, but direct seeded plants will quickly catch up.

Plant seeds ½ - 1" deep. Squash is often planted in hills, or clusters, with 2 -3 seeds per hill spaced 2 - 3 ft. apart. Each hill can be thinned to 1 -2 plants, once the seedlings are 2 -3 in. tall.

If planting in rows, space plants 8 - 10 in. apart, with 3 ft. between rows. Give your plants plenty of room to roam. Although patty pan vines aren’t as long as some squash vines, they can still spread 4-6 ft..

A second planting in mid-summer will keep your garden producing into fall. Early plants can become exhausted because of heavy fruit set.

Squash plants have both male and female blossoms and they both must be present at the same time for pollination to occur. Having multiple plants with multiple blossoms will increase the chance of pollination.

Hardiness Zones:

Patty pan, like most of the vegetables we grow, is an annual plant, so hardiness zones do not apply here.

Mature Plant Size:

Most patty pan have a semi-bush growth habit, so the vines are not as long as you might expect from a squash plant.

Patty pan vines will grow about 2-3 ft. in height, with a spread of about 3-5 ft.

The fruits can start to be picked when they are about 2 in. in diameter up to about 4 in. Each squash weigh less than 1 pound.

Days to Harvest

Check the Days to Maturity for the variety you are growing, but most are ready to harvest in 45 - 70 days.

Maintenance and Care of Patty Pan Squash:

Keep the vines well watered, especially when in bloom and producing. If they experience too much drought, they will drop their flowers and fruits.

Mulching helps keep the shallow root system cool and moist. I like to use straw, to keep the fruits dry and clean, but any mulch will do.

Side dress with compost or fertilize every 4 weeks, while producing squash.

The greatest maintenance will be checking your summer squash daily, as summer squash can reach harvest size within 4 days of flowering.

Preparing Patty Pan Squash

The odd shape can confound cooks. You can avoid the whole idea of how to slice patty pan squash and cook them whole. Whole patty pans can be steamed over boiling water until tender, about 4 - 6 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 - 15 minutes at 420 degrees F., until tender. You can coat with olive oil or butter and season to taste before hand, if you so choose.

If you want to be brave and slice your patty pans, feel free to slice them anyway 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.

Patty pan squash also make great little edible serving bowls. Scoop out the centers, either before or after cooking, and fill with a stuffing of your choice.

Suggested Patty Pan Varieties:

  • ‘Patty Pan/Scallop’ - An unnamed, usually pale green and dependable choice.
  • ‘Flying Saucer’ - Green centers with a ring of yellow. Dense fruits with a nutty flavor.
  • ‘Pattison Panache’ - A pale green French heirloom. Best picked young.
  • ‘Sunburst’ - A former All America Selection. Bright yellow and very tender, especially when picked young.

Pests & Problems of Patty Pan Squash:

Pests:

  • 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!
  • Squash bugs feed on leaves. Although they prefer winter squash, an infestation can easily kill young vines.
  • Squash vine borer larvae bore into the base of the stem and feed their until mature, cutting off the vine circulation.

Diseases:

  • Powdery Mildew can affect the leaves of the plants during humid summers. (It is a squash, after all). 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.