Scallop Squash Growing Tips: Learn About Patty Pan Squash Plants

If you’ve been stuck in a squash rut, routinely cultivating zucchini or crooknecks, try growing patty pan squash. What is patty pan squash and how do you grow it?

Growing Patty Pan Squash Plants

With a delicate, mild flavor, much akin to zucchini, the patty pan squash, also referred to as the scallop squash, is a small variety of summer squash. Lesser known than its relatives, yellow squash or zucchini, patty pans have a distinct shape which some people describe as similar to a flying saucer.

The fun shape of the fruit growing on patty pan squash plants may also be an enticement to getting the kids to eat their veggies. They can begin being eaten when only an inch or two (2.5-5 cm.) across, making them even more entertaining to kids’ taste buds. In fact, scallop squash are not as moist as crooknecks or zucchini and should be harvested when young and tender.

These little flying saucer shaped fruit may be white, green or buttery yellow in color and are round and flat with a scalloped edge, hence the name.

How to Care For Scallop Squash

Scallop squash or patty pans should be grown in full sun, in rich, well-draining soil. Once the danger of frost has passed in your area, these little squash can be directly sown into the garden. They are usually planted in groups with two or three seeds per hill and spaced 2-3 feet (0.5-1 m.) apart. Thin them to one or two plants per hill once the seedlings attain a height of 2 or 3 inches (5-7.5 cm.) tall.

Give them plenty of room to grow like any squash; their vines spread 4-6 feet (1-2 m.). The fruit should mature between 49 and 54 days. Keep the squash watered well. There are no secret scallop squash growing tips; the plants are relatively easy to grow.

Scallop Squash Varieties

There are both open-pollinated, those pollinated via insects or wind, and hybrid varieties of scallop squash available. Hybrid varieties are bred to insure that the seeds have known specific traits while open-pollinated varieties are fertilized via an uncontrolled source, which may result in a plant that doesn’t breed true. That said, there are some open pollinators that result in true plants from generation to generation and we call them heirloom varieties.

The choice to grow heirloom or hybrid is yours. Here are some popular hybrid varieties:

  • Sunburst
  • Sunny Delight
  • Peter Pan
  • Scallopini

Winners amongst heirlooms include:

  • White Patty Pan
  • Early White Bush
  • Yellow Bush
  • Benning’s Green Tint
  • Wood’s Earliest Prolific

When to Pick Patty Pan Squash

Plants are prolific and will produce several dozen squash each. Within days of flowering, it is very likely that you will have fruit that is sizeable enough to harvest. Pick once the color changes from green to golden yellow but while the fruit is still small (2-4 inches (5-10 cm.)). Patty pans can grow to 7 inches (18 cm.) across but get rather tough the larger they get.

You can prepare patty pans just as you would any squash. They can be sliced, diced, braised, grilled, fried, roasted, or stuffed. Steam small ones whole for four to six minutes. Scallop squash even make edible, useful serving bowls. Just scoop out the center while either raw or cooked and fill with whatever your heart desires.

How to Cook Patty Pan Squash

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If you've spotted adorable patty pan squash at the market, grab a bag and get cooking! Patty pan squash are small and mild-flavored like zucchini or summer squash. Try roasting halved squash in the oven with olive oil and herbs or fill whole patty pan squash with a cheese mixture before baking them. If you like a smoky flavor, toss pieces of patty pan squash on the grill or just cook them in a skillet on the stove if you're in a hurry.

Growing Summer Squash Everything You Need to Know

Growing summer squash is one of my favorites for my vegetable garden. Summer squashes are pretty hardy and, more often than not, you’ll have more than you can use (but I have shared some recipes at the end of this post).

So what is summer squash? Summer squash is a squash grown during the warm season, after any frost. The biggest difference between summer and winter squash is that summer squash is picked when it is tender you do not need to wait until the outer rind hardens like winter squash. Summer squash varieties include zucchini, yellow crook neck squash, yellow straight squash, scallop squash (or patty pan) and a few other miscellaneous squashes. Not only are summer squashes tasty…they are beautiful!

I recommend trying at least one variety you’ve never had before! But WARNING , don’t plant more than one summer squash plant per family member unless you are selling or plan to give a lot away!

Growing Summer Squash – When to Plant

  • Growing from seed, directly sown in your garden, is best.
  • You can start seeds indoors but they don’t care for root disturbance, so plan to use seed pots that can go directly in the ground. (See my list of DIY Seed Starter Pots)
  • Plant in your garden only after the chance of frost is passed (usually late spring to midsummer).

Growing Summer Squash – Planting Tips

  • Consider doing 2 rounds of planting – one early in the season and one later in mid-summer for the greatest harvest amounts.
  • Soil should have good drainage and some amendments like fresh compost to give growing plants plenty of nutrients. If you don’t have your own compost I highly recommend using worm castings.
  • Plant where summer squash will receive full sun for at least 7 hours a day.
  • Seeds should be sown about 1 inch below the surface with at least 18 inches to 36 inches spacing. If you are using the Square Foot Gardening method you’ll only want one bush-variety in a 4×4 box or 2 square feet for vining types with a trellis. Bush varieties are usually best if you have limited space.
  • Consider growing your summer squash in containers on your porch! You can grow squash in as little as 5 gallons but I think 10 gallons are better. I recommend fabric pots that help you avoid your plants getting root bound and have good drainage. (See other vegetables that grow great in containers).
  • If you are not getting good pollination you can self-pollinate your summer squash.

Growing Summer Squash – Care

  • Once your summer squash plants are about 2 inches above the soil, it is a good idea to add mulch around them. The mulch will keep weeds down, preserve moisture and regulate your soil temperature.
  • Summer squash is a heavy feeder, which is why I recommend adding compost to your garden before planting. You may need to fertilize your plants once blossoms and fruit are developing. I have had good performance using worm castings and Dr. Earth
  • Water deeply once or twice a week – at least an inch deep. Shallow watering is bad for root development.

Growing Summer Squash – Pests & Possible Problems

  • Prevention is best, keep a close eye on developing leaves for signs for infestation.
  • Squash Bugs and Cucumber Beetles – these bad boys are most damaging to the squash as it is developing. You can prevent them by netting your squash plants until they are mature. You’ll see yellow leaves that eventually wilt completely and die because they are sucked dry.
  • Squash Vine Boer – you’ll notice your vine runners wilting.
  • Aphids – I have some tips to help you combat aphids naturally, here. You’ll notice yellowing or curling leaves so check the underside for the boogers.
  • White Fly – You’ll see them fly around whenever the plant is disturbed or watered.
  • The best way to combat pests is using companion planting methods and crop rotation.
  • Powdery mildew can be a problem – pick off any affected leaves. You can plant mildew resistant plants if this continues to be an issue in your garden.

Growing Summer Squash – Harvest

  • Most summer squash varieties are going to start producing mature fruit in 60 days! Talk about bang for the buck, right?
  • DO NOT let your fruit get too big. I know those contest winning squashes look amazing but the taste isn’t. I like to harvest my summer squash when they are about 6 inches in length or for the scalloped when they are about 3 inches in diameter.
  • Young and tender are the goals for a good flavored summer squash. Older squash is probably best fed to livestock or thrown in the compost. OR save them for seeds, which I talk about below.
  • Harvest often to keep your plant producing! Don’t be surprised if you’re harvesting 3 times a week during the season’s peak.

Growing Summer Squash – Storage

  • One downfall to this wonderful veggie is that they do not store well, long term. They are best enjoyed within a few days of harvesting them. It is best to keep them refrigerated.
  • Canning – the National Center for Home Food Preservation does not recommend canning summer squash.
  • Pickling – Pickled summer squash is delish. Check out this recipe for Spicy Refrigerator Squash!
  • Freezing – Summer squash can be frozen for later use and seems to do very well. See How to Freeze Summer Squash.
  • Dehydrating – Another fabulous option is to dehydrate slices of summer squash for later use in soups and stews. See How to Dehydrate Summer Squash

Growing Summer Squash – Seed Saving

  • I recommend you save seeds from heirloom varieties, not hybrids.
  • Use your overripe fruit for their seeds, not young or underdeveloped squash.
  • You must be absolutely sure no cross-pollination has occurred (won’t show in this year’s harvest).
  • Cut up and scoop out your seeds into a colander.
  • Gently remove as much of the pulp as you can.
  • Put the seeds in a bowl and allow them to sit for a few minutes. It is said that the healthiest seeds will sink to the bottom. Remove any floating seeds.
  • Allow the seeds to dry in a single layer, for 24 – 36 hours may take longer in more humid climates.
  • Store in a cool, dark, place for next season.

Growing Summer Squash – Recipes

Now you’re ready to grow, harvest, store and cook summer squash! Happy Harvesting!

Patty Pan or Scallop Squash

Patty pan or scallop squash is a small, saucer-shaped warm-season squash that usually grows to no more than 3 to 4 inches in diameter. Patty pan squashes look something like a toy top. They can be white to creamy colored or various shades of green or yellow. Patty pans are less moist than other summer squashes such as zucchini. They actually grow more firm as they ripen similar to winter squashes, so they are best harvested and eaten when they are young and tender.

Cook. Place a whole, washed patty pan in a steamer basket over boiling water and steam for about 4 to 5 minutes or until just tender pierced with a fork. Patty pans can also be quartered and brushed with olive oil and roasted for about 10 minutes. Patty pan slices can be sautéed until just tender. They can also be stuffed with chopped onion, meat, cheese, and spices and baked.

Grow. Patty pan squashes are for summer growing and require 45 to 55 frost-free days to reach harvest. Most patty pans have an open vining habit but rarely stand more than 3 feet tall. Squash require full sun and regular deep watering.

Hybrid patty pans varieties include:

Peter Pan is well scalloped from 2½ to 3 inches across at harvest. Peter Pan is light green with a small blossom end scar. Peter Pan has a pale green flesh and is meaty. Allow 50 frost-free days to grow and harvest Peter Pan.

Scallopini is a scalloped-shaped squash with medium fluting 2½ to 3 inches across at harvest. Scallopini has dark green speckled skin similar to a zucchini. Scallopini has a sweet, nut-like flavor. Allow 52 frost-free days to grow and harvest scallopini.

Sunburst is a hybrid medium-sized deeply scalloped squash about 2½ to 3 inches across. Sunburst has a bright yellow skin with a dark green sunburst on both the blossom and stem ends. Sunburst has a creamy white flesh and a delicate sweet, buttery flavor. Sunburst requires 52 frost-free days to mature.

Sunny Delight (pictured above) is a medum-size hybrid scallop squash about 2½ to 3 inches across, very similar to Sunburst but without the green marking at the blossom and stem ends. Sunny Delight is light butter yellow colored and and flavorful. This squash requires 45 frost-free days to mature.

Open pollinated patty pan varieties include:

Benning’s Green Tint is scallop-shaped from 2 to 2½ inches deep and 3 to 4 inches across at havest. This squash has a pale green skin and flesh and is thick and tender. Benning’s Green Tint is a long producer and is ready for harvest after 55 frost-free days.

White Bush, also called White Patty Pan and Early White Bush, is a pale green skinned squash that turns to near white by harvest time. White Bush is 2½ to 3 inches deep and 5 to 7 inches across, quite large for a patty pan. The flesh is white, tender, and succulent. White Bush requires 55 frost-free days to harvest.

Wood’s Earliest Prolific is slightly scalloped 2 to 2½ inches deep and 3 to 4 inches in diameter. The skin is pale green to pale greenish-white at maturity. Wood’s Earliest produces throughout the season and requires 50 frost-free days to harvest.

Yellow Bush, also called Golden Bush, Early Yellow Bush, and Yellow Custard, is deeply scalloped about 3 inches deep and 5 inches across. Yellow Bush has a deep yellow skin mottled with pale yellow. It’s flesh is yellowish-white and flavorful. Yellow Bush requires 60 days to harvest.

Patty pan squashes are also known as cymling, custard marrow, or custard squash. The name patty pan comes from an old-style pan for baking pattys. The word cymling comes from the English simnal cake which is fluted. The French call patty pan squash pâtisson which is a Provençal word for a cake made in a scalloped mold.

How to Cook Patty Pan Squash: Summer Eating

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Cooking patty pan squash is something that you can do by sauteing it over high heat. Cook patty pan squash with help from the Director of Culinary Operations for Guckenheimer in this free video clip..
Expert: Larry Leibowitz.
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Filmmaker: Brandon Somerton.
Series Description: Summer is an excellent opportunity for a great many things, including a variety of different, delicious, seasonal foods. Learn about eating seasonally and enjoying summer food with help from the Director of Culinary Operations for Guckenheimer in this free video series.

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Squash Recipe

Summer Chili:
¾ lb. lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced carrots
¾ cup chopped green bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced (or ½ tsp. garlic powder)
1 28 oz. can tomatoes (or 3½ cups fresh tomatoes, chopped)
1 16 oz. can chili or kidney beans, drained (or 2 cups, cooked from scratch)
2 cups of water
1½ Tbsps. chili powder
¾ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. salt, if desired
2 cups diced yellow or zucchini squash

Directions: Cook ground beef or ground turkey in a large pot over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain off fat. Add onions, carrots, green bell peppers, and garlic. Cover and cook over low heat until onion is softened, about 8 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes, beans, water, chili powder, oregano, and salt. Cook, uncovered until chili comes to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add squash and simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes longer. Serves 8.

Calories: 210 per serving
Fat: 4 grams per serving

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at [email protected] or 1-888-656-9988.

Original Author(s)

Janis G. Hunter, Retired HGIC Nutrition Specialist, Clemson University
Katherine L. Cason, PhD, Former Professor, State Program Leader for Food Safety and Nutrition, Clemson University.

Revisions by:

Chase McIntosh Baillie, Food Systems and Safety Agent, Clemson Extension, Clemson University

This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement of brand names or registered trademarks by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied, nor is any discrimination intended by the exclusion of products or manufacturers not named. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.

How to grow patty pan squash

Love courgettes and butternut squash? Then why not try growing tasty patty pan squash too, with the help of our step by step guide.

Published: Friday, 3 May, 2019 at 11:01 am

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If you love eating courgettes and butternut squash, but fancy trying something a little different, why not grow patty pan squashes? They’re surprisingly easy to grow, despite their exotic appearance.

Patty pan squash can be raised from seed in May, to be planted out once frosts have passed, usually in late May or early June. Young plants may need extra protection on cold nights, so have bell cloches or fleece to hand, just in case cool weather is forecast.

You’ll get the heaviest crops in a sunny, sheltered spot, but plenty of moisture and a well-fed soil are also essential. Improve the soil by digging in lots of well-rotted manure, your own garden compost or a proprietary soil improver.

Find out how to grow patty pan squashes, below.

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