The Ultimate Guides To Growing, Caring And Harvesting Zucchini

Zucchini is one of the most popular vegetables to grow in a backyard garden. It is very useful in preparing meals and it is an outstanding producer. Just one or two plants will produce enough zucchini for a family during the summer. It is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family which also includes squash and pumpkins. It is considered a summer squash because it has a soft, edible skin.

Plant Chronicle

  • Common Name: Zucchini, Courgette
  • Scientific Name: Cucurbita Pepo
  • Family: Cucurbitaceae
  • Light requirements: Full sun
  • Temperature: above 60 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Soil Preference: Compost rich, well-drained soil
  • Fertilizer: Well-balanced fertilizer. Choose an all-purpose fertilizer and apply it to the soil at the time of planting.
  • Pests: Cucumber Beetle, Vine Borers, Cutworms, Spider mites
  • Diseases: Powdery Mildew, Downy mildew, Bacterial Wilt, Botrytis Blight, Yellow Mosaic Virus.

Zucchini Garden

Varieties

There are many different varieties to choose from when you want to grow zucchini. All of them are very prolific and produce fruit that is delicious.

  • Ambassadoris good for smaller gardens because the plant is a little more compact than some of the others. It produces a medium-sized green zucchini with gold flecks.
  • Costata Romanesco is an Italian variety with grayish green fruit with ribs. If you are into deep frying the blossoms of the male plant this variety will give you tons of them.
  • Eight Ball is a fun variety for the kids to grow. The fruit is about the size and shape of a softball but is green with gold flecks just like regular zucchini.
  • Gold Rush doesn’t look much like a zucchini because the fruit is bright gold with green stems, but they do taste just as good.
  • Seneca gives a very heavy yield of dark green fruit and is the type grown in most gardens.
  • Spacemiser is great for those that don’t have a great deal of room. It has dark green fruit with very good flavor. This variety will grow in a large pot very well.

How to Plant Zucchini Seeds

Zucchini plants are long, thin, vegetables that resemble a cucumber but are actually a member of the squash family of plants. It is a summer squash that can grow from a seedling to a mature plant in less than two months. The fruit ripens in early to mid-summer and each plant produces an abundance of zucchinis. In addition, to grow rapidly, zucchini squash plants require very little care after the initial planting. As long as you ensure that they receive adequate water when you plant them, you will soon have an abundance of zucchini.

zucchini seedlings

When to Plant Zucchini Seeds?

Zucchini is a warm-weather plant, and like most other plants in the summer vegetable garden, they can only be planted outdoors once the threat of frost passes in the spring. However, to get a head start on growing zucchini seeds, you can plant them indoors in the late winter and transplant the seedlings outdoors later as full-grown plants or seedlings.

Where to Plant Zucchini Seeds?

Zucchini plants are not particular when it comes to the type of soil they are planted in as long as it has full sunlight. Do not plant zucchini squash in soggy locations or areas where the soil stays moist most of the time since rot and fungus will develop.

Preparing the Planting Location

Since zucchinis don’t require fertile soil, all you really need to do to prepare the ground is to loosen it up. Do this by setting the blade depth on a garden tiller to at least 4 to 5 inches and running the tiller over the planting location once or twice.

If your soil has failed to perform well in the past with regards to vegetable growing, an application of fertilizer may be necessary. Choose an all-purpose fertilizer and apply it to the soil at the time of planting. Later, you can reapply the fertilizer to the zucchini as a side dressing once the plants mature.

Planting the Zucchini Seeds

Plant zucchini seeds into the prepared planting site at a depth of no more than 1 inch. Place one zucchini seed into each hole and cover the seeds completely with additional soil. Space each seed at least 36 inches apart to allow for the mature height and spread of the zucchini plant.

After the seeds are in the soil, water the area well to start the seed germination process. Continue watering every two to three days until they start growing. Zucchini seeds emerge from the surface of the soil in approximately one week. Once the seedlings reach 3 to 4 inches tall, reduce watering to once per week, although during droughts or heat waves addition water will be required. Instead of growing zucchini seeds in rows, you can plant zucchinis in a hill by mounding soil up to a 12-inch height. Plant three to four zucchini seeds per hill at a 1-inch depth, making sure they are equally spaced.

Harvest and Storage

Zucchini is one of the fastest growing summer vegetables and takes only 45 to 55 days to grow from a seed to produce edible fruit. Pick zucchini when they are about 4 to 6 inches long.

Watch out! Zucchini can grow inches during the night, or at least it seems so. Check them every day. The bigger once have lots of seeds and the main goal is to have more flesh than seeds.

Zucchini doesn’t last long once it is picked so you will have to preserve it to keep it or use it right away.

Zucchini can be frozen but it is best to peel and shred it first before you freeze.

Use it in recipes needing shredded zucchini such as zucchini bread, cake or cookies. You can also cut zucchini in 1-inch slices and sauté gently until still crisp.

Pack them in freezer bags, remove the air and seal. Frozen zucchini lasts for 3 to 4 months. Zucchini will keep about 1 week in the refrigerator.

Pests and Diseases

Zucchini yellow mosaic virus

Zucchini can be plagued with several different pests and diseases so you must inspect your plants for any signs.

Cucumber Beetle is green and yellow; either striped or spotted. They eat the leaves of the plant so look for half-eaten leaves.

Vine Borers will bore into the vine near the base of the plant and chew right through it.

Cutworms will attack your plants early in the season and cut them off right at the base of the plant.

Spider mites and aphids will show up on the undersides of the leaves and they will eat the leaves.

Zucchini is susceptible to powdery mildew wilt. If you see your leaves and stems starting to wilt and a white mildew collecting on the leaves you need to go to the local nursery and get a fungicide. Follow the directions on the box and hopefully, your crop will be saved. These diseases hit in the late summer when the weather is humid. Making sure the plants get plenty of sun will help. Also, do not water on top of the leaves. Snake a soaker hose around your plants and let them drip water to the ground. Good air flow around your plants (not placing them too close together when planting) will also help.

You may see some of the blossoms falling off the plant. Do not be too disturbed if this happens as many times it just natures way of getting rid of blossoms the plant does not need (males). You may also notice that the ends of the zucchini vegetable seem to be soft and rotten. This is caused by Squash Blossom End rot and can be treated by-product from your local nursery.

Follow

About the Author

With the endless passion for organic living, I - Ann Sanders has come up with the idea of creating A Green Hand. Being the founder and editor of A Green Hand, my goal is to provide everyone with a wide range of tips about healthy lifestyle with multiform categories including gardening, health & beauty, food recipe,...

Leave a Comment:

Leave a Comment: