By Larry Hodgson
I prefer growing golden zucchini (a type of yellow-fruited summer squash, Cucurbita pepo). Not because it’s any tastier than the usual green zucchini, although some do claim golden or yellow zucchini is a bit sweeter, nor any more nutritious (as far as I know), but because I can see it better.
Green zucchini is hard to spot amongst all those green leaves. I could easily miss it. And you don’t want to leave zucchini on the plant too long: if it grows too long, it becomes dense, seedy and tasteless. It’s a “harvest early and often” type of plant. With golden zucchini, the bright yellow coloration stands out and I can easily see what stage it has reached.
And there are plenty of golden zucchini varieties to choose from (‘Goldmine’, ‘Goldy’, ‘Goldrush’, ‘Golden Delight’, etc.), with seeds of several available in local garden centers in case you, unlike me, aren’t given to ordering your vegetable seeds by mail.
I apply the same rule to other summer squashes: patty pans, summer squash, etc. I go straight for the yellow ones!
The same goes for wax beans (for some reason, we call yellow beans—Phaseolus vulgaris—wax beans and green ones string beans: go figure!). With their yellow color, you can’t miss wax beans. With green ones, it’s so easy to overlook them and leave them too long on the plant. In fact, it happens regularly. Even purple-podded beans are not as easy to see as yellow wax ones, although they’re more visible than green ones.
I’m likewise not terribly impressed with green varieties of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). By that I mean not young tomato fruits harvested before their time, but tomatoes that remain green at maturity, like ‘Green Zebra’ or ‘Aunt Ruby’s German Green’. Not only are they hard to spot, but judging just when they’re ripe is difficult too.
And I personally think somebody should develop a yellow or otherwise brilliantly colored arctic kiwi (Actinidia kolomikta). They’re delicious, but those tiny little fruits are ever so hard to find. It makes harvesting a real chore! And I miss so many of them, only discovering them when they drop off the vine. As they lie on the ground, they seem to look up at me like so many green eyeballs and say, “Nyah nyah, you missed us!”
Now, true enough, there are red-skinned and purplish-skinned hardy kiwis, like ‘Ken’s Red’, but they’re a different species: A. arguta. Not hardy enough to be trusted in my cold climate (USDA hardiness zone 3, AgCan hardiness zone 4).
So, when it comes to fruit, I think there should be a universal rule: they should all be brilliantly colored. After all, why should harvesting be a challenge?