Vol 117 (2004): Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society

Hydroponically grown 'baby' squash: gourmet appeal for the greenhouse grower

Nicole L. Shaw
University of Florida
Published December 1, 2004
  • cucurbita pepo,
  • protected agriculture,
  • soilless culture,
  • specialty vegetable


In the past few years, 'baby' vegetables have become a popular item for restaurant chefs and retail sales. In spring 2003, 18 squash cultivars, seven zucchini-types (three green, three yellow, and one round), five yellow summer squashtypes, four patty pan/scallop-types, and two cousa-types, were grown hydroponically in a passive-ventilated greenhouse. Plants were grown from 14 February until 15 May 2003. Squash were harvested every other day starting 10 March 2003 (28 total) and graded as fancy or baby depending on size. Squash were graded as baby when they were less than 10 cm in length for zucchini and summer squash types and less than 4 cm diameter for round and patty pan/scallop types. Fruit larger than those considered baby-size were graded as fancy. Total marketable fruit was the combined total of baby, fancy, and No. 1 fruit grades. The cv. Sunburst (patty pan) produced the greatest number of baby-size fruit per plant at 67 while the cv. Bareket (green zucchini) produced the least: 16. The zucchinitypes produced between 16 and 25 baby-size fruit per plant (Bareket, Revenue, and Raven were green while Goldy, Gold Rush, and Sebring were yellow). The yellow summer squashtypes, Seneca Supreme, Supersett, and Yellowcrook produced on average 45 baby fruit per plant (50 to 84 total fruit per plant). The production of the patty pan/scallop-types (Butter Scallop, Sunburst, Patty Green Tint, and Starship) ranged from 50 to 67 baby-size fruit per plant depending on cultivar (70 to 80 total fruit per plant). Magda and HA-187 (cousa-types) produced 27 and 34 baby fruit, respectively. Squash can produce numerous high quality baby-sized fruit when grown hydroponically in a pesticide-free environment of a greenhouse where they can be harvested, packaged, and distributed to buyers daily with greatly reduced concerns for food safety.