I spoke too soon about anticipating a bumper crop of zucchini from my garden. Despite a warning from Ron Kujawski, The Eagle's gardening columnist, that the blossoms wouldn't each produce a squash, I did have a plethora of baby zucchinis. And then, one morning, seemingly overnight, half the leaves on the plants were yellow and all were covered with large white spots.
I could have gone to Ron for some gardening advice, but I had already picked his brain about another gardening dilemma. Instead, I turned to the internet for guidance. It looked like my plants have powdery mildew, maybe caused by hot days and hot, humid nights. Several websites and YouTube videos suggested a solution of baking soda, dish soap and water sprayed liberally on the top and bottom of the leaves. I had all the ingredients on hand and gave it a try.
Another suggestion was to cut off the really badly spotted and yellowed leaves. I did — and lost about half of each plant. The internet experts claimed clearing out the bad foliage would help air circulate through the plants and help arrest the mildew, and new leaves would eventually emerge, along with the possibility of more blossoms and more squash. (The jury is still out on that last bit of advice.)
A week later, things were still looking pretty bad. I went back to the internet. Another solution to the problem, the web experts claimed, was to use neem oil. I applied it the other night and am keeping my fingers crossed. I removed a few more yellow and spotted leaves and a few partially rotted baby squash.
Although my dreams of zucchinis galore are shattered, I'm still hopeful for some tomatoes, enough to go beyond BLT sandwiches, but not enough to make spaghetti sauce. And the cherry tomatoes are coming right along ...
PASTA WITH ROASTED GARLIC AND CHERRY TOMATOES
3 cups cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil (option: replace 1 tablespoon oil with sun-dried tomato oil)
1 pound linguine, or spaghetti
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
2 whole garlic cloves, whole, crushed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (more if preferred)
1 cup coarse chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions. When boiling, season with salt, add pasta and cook until just al-dente.
While pasta is cooking, in a wide saute pan, heat olive oil with sun dried tomato olive oil or all olive oil. Add smashed garlic with chili flakes and cook for 30 seconds.
Add cherry tomatoes and let them slightly burst in the pan. (about 4 to 5 minutes on medium-high heat). Once few tomatoes has started to burst, remove the tomato and garlic mixture.
Deglaze the pan with wine, bring to boil, and let alcohol cook-off (1 to 2 minutes).
Season with salt. Add in cooked and drained pasta with half of Parmesan cheese. Add back in the tomato, garlic mixture and coat pasta in tomato, wine and Parmesan sauce. Add chopped basil. Sprinkle on remaining Parmesan and serve.