Zucchini is a healthy, nutritious vegetable that practically grows itself. Learning how to grow zucchini can save you money at the grocery store because one plant can grow up to six pounds of squash. That means a packet of seeds can help you save on your food bill!
A fun fact about zucchini is they are actually related to squash, the same family as the pumpkin squash that most people are familiar of. The zucchini is also technically a fruit, although most people treat it as a vegetable. Most varieties of zucchini are considered summer squash, while nine varieties are winter squash. Zucchini looks naturally yellow in some parts and green for most of the part, even some have spots or stripes on them. Don’t be alarmed by those yellow spots or stripes, they are natural and does not mean that the plant is sick.
Why Grow Zucchini?
If you don’t already know, zucchini is a versatile vegetable with a variety of health benefits. An understanding of how to grow zucchini will help your diet. It has practically no calories and absolutely no fat. However, it is high in water and fibre content which means it is great for your digestive system. Besides this it contains a host of vitamins and minerals, and is particularly high in vitamin A which helps support healthy vision and immunity. Did you know that even the zucchini’s flowers are edible? They are especially much more so delicious when deep fried. like a tempura
If you have kids and you want to encourage them to learn to plant, then this plant is the perfect project for them. The time starting from planting to harvest does not take long, giving your kids a quick result to their work.
As for your kitchen, zucchini can be used in so many ways. The obvious uses are in dishes like stir fry and casseroles. Zucchini has little to no flavor, yet it absorbs the juices surrounding it to amplify the dish while maintaining a healthy profile. It can be grated and made into cakes, loafs, and squares. The flesh can be shaved into noodles to make healthy pasta. You can make it into relish for a light alternative to cucumbers. And if you end up with too much zucchini in the fall, simply shred each squash into bags that can be frozen and used throughout the winter.
How to Grow Zucchini from Seed
As mentioned above, knowing how to grow zucchini from seed is an economical lifesaver. All you need is a packet of seeds and a garden or container to get started. Even growing zones with a shorter growing season can plant zucchini directly into the garden without worrying about starting the seeds ahead of time.
If you really want to have the best zucchini possible, then its best that they are already planted in the summer months. The zucchini thrives and produces the best fruits in the summer, but this has to do with the time of fruiting rather than time of planting. Zucchini loves the summer heat and they can’t tolerate cold weather and in cold soil. Therefore, plant your zucchini just after the winter frost has passed. Plant the zucchini when the temperature of the soil outside is at east 55 degrees Fahrenheit or 13 degrees Celsius, this is normally after two weeks after winter.
It is important that you find the perfect spot to maximize its productivity. Plant your zucchini is a spot where it can get the most sunshine. Find a location that has plenty of room for the zucchini to grow and where it at least can receive 6-8 hours of sunlight with least shade as much as possible. Make sure that the spot not only receives plenty of sunlight, but also has the ideal soil to plant your zucchini on. The ideal soil for the zucchini is a soil that is well drained and moist.
Before you start planting your zucchini, prepare your soil first. Although the zucchini can still grow without preparing the soil prior to planting, it may not produce the best yield or best quality instead. So if you want the best crop, prepare the soil. This is done mixing some fertilizer and gardening mulch to put some nutrients into the soil and make it sink deeper. Consider also testing the pH level of the soil, the ideal pH level of the soil for the zucchini is somewhere between 6 and 7.5. If the pH level is not met, you make the soil more acidic by adding peat moss and or make it more basic by mixing some lime into it.
When deciding how much zucchini to grow, you must consider what you will do with it all. How much zucchini do you want to deal with during harvest? If you have lots of uses for it, time to store it, or friends to give it to then this is less of a concern. But if you do not want endless squash, perhaps only grow a few plants. You can also seed new plants every few weeks so you have a staggered harvest and can enjoy fresh zucchini for a longer amount of time.
If you are planting in a garden, you have two options. You can plant your zucchini in rows or in hills. There may be no significant difference between these two methods. However, zucchini requires multiple pollination sessions to make fruit. For this reason, zucchini in hills may be more attractive to pollinators due to their proximity to each other. Both of these methods require you to wait until all risk of frost has passed.
To plant in rows, work up your soil and prepare your row. Then place seeds in groups of two or three every 36 inches. Put them no deeper than one inch deep. After the seeds have sprouted and are showing true leaves, you can thin the plants to one per spot. This is adequate zucchini plant spacing when they are in rows.
Planting zucchini in hills requires a bit more preparation. Make hills of dirt 6-12 inches high and 12-24 inches across. You will plant the seeds on top of the hill in a circular pattern. Do this with five or six seeds. Again, wait for the seedlings to display their true leaves before thinning the zucchini plant spacing to three plants per hill.
The only maintenance required for zucchini plants is some weeding, occasional water, and perhaps a bit of mulching. If you have any problems with weeds keeping sprouting near the vicinity of your zucchini, then simply need to add a layer mulch around your zucchini. Consider adding some liquid growth fertilizer to promote the growth of your zucchini. Also continually prune your zucchini, especially so if you some parts of it dying or containing some disease in them. Harvest zucchini when they are smaller for the best results, as overgrown zucchini tend to be woody and dry.
Zucchini Growing Problems
Although zucchini are relatively easy to grow, every gardener experiences zucchini growing problems now and then. There are simple solutions to these issues. Here are three of the most common concerns.
You may end up infested with squash vine borers. They resemble a moth that is black and red in color, although they fly fast and can be difficult to see. What you will notice is the damage their larvae cause. They eat the inside of the main stem which hollows it out. You might see small holes near the base of the plant with dusty material nearby. You can prevent this by wrapping the bottom of the stem with aluminum foil. Another method is to invest in a row cover to keep flyers away.
If your fruits end up tiny or malformed, then poor pollination is probably the culprit. You can improve pollination by ensuring there are plenty of flowering plants around your zucchini to help attract the right kind of insects. Some people manually pollinate the flowers with a paintbrush to make sure they have a healthy harvest.
A fungus that can attack your zucchini vines is powdery mildew. The name describes it well as the leaves look as though they have powder on them. If this is isolated to only a few small areas you should not worry too much. It only becomes a problem when many leaves are covered as this can inhibit photosynthesis. You may have planted your seeds too close together, so prevent that in the future. You can also research organic pesticides to treat this problem.
Zucchini is a great vegetable to have on hand. Experiencing how to grow zucchini is possible for new and veteran gardeners alike. You are more likely to have too much zucchini than not enough by the fall if you take the time to grow your own zucchini.