Q. Dear Twig: What's the biggest zucchini in the world?
A. The book called Guiness World Records 2008 lists it as having weighed 64 pounds, 8 ounces. A man in the United Kingdom named Bernard Lavery grew it in 1990. Also very big is a 59-pounder that a gardener named John Evans brought forth in 1998 in Alaska.
To give you something to compare this to, an Old English sheepdog, the white and gray shaggy dog with the hair in its eyes, weighs about the same: about 65 pounds. So imagine an Old English sheepdog that doesn't have any fur, doesn't have any legs, tends not to bark and, you know, is green, and there you have it.
The zucchini ("zoo-kee-nee") is a kind of squash. And squash, despite its squashy name, makes a pretty good food for you. It has antioxidants, vitamins A and C, B vitamins, iron, calcium, and fiber in it. Small ones taste better than giant ones usually.
Squash me — wait, don't,
P.S. Mostly zucchinis weigh less than a pound and look like a hot dog — the food, not the dog.
Zucchinis of all sizes are in season here in Ohio. Look for them at the supermarket and at farmers' markets. If you or one of your parents planted them in your garden, you might have so many right now that they're knocking on your back door to ask you for a glass of water or maybe to play catch. OK, they probably won't do that.
Read these two fact sheets by Ohio State University Extension to learn more: "Growing Squash and Pumpkins in the Home Garden," http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1620.html; and "Selecting, Storing, and Serving Ohio Squash and Pumpkin," http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5530.pdf. They're packed with squashy goodness.
"Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick" is a weekly feature for children (ages 9+; 4th grade reading level) about science, nature, farming and the environment. Online at http://extension.osu.edu/~news/archive.php?series=science.
Brought to you by your scientific friends at The Ohio State University — specifically, at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) (http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu) and with Ohio State University Extension (http://extension.osu.edu). OARDC and OSU Extension are the research and outreach arms, respectively, of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
Written by Kurt Knebusch of OARDC and OSU Extension. For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt at CommTech, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691; firstname.lastname@example.org; (330) 263-3776.