4 Tips on Growing Zucchini
Zucchini is by far the most popular type of summer squash grown in home vegetable gardens throughout the United States and maybe even the world. Zucchini’s ease of growing, prolific production, and wide range of culinary uses makes its popularity a no brainer. Throw in the dozens of heirloom varieties you have to choose from for your growing zone, and you can see why everyone has zucchini in their home garden.
A few zucchini plants can easily yield plenty of this delicately flavored fruit for a family of four or more. I should know I have a family of four and with only 4 plants I give plenty away to my neighbors.
While zucchini are easy to grow in most areas, a few tips can go a long way, so I wanted to share with you what I do so as to avoid some headaches along the way.
I am in growing zone 7a according the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Our growing season without frost starts on or about May 1st and will continue through the end of September. For the sake of growing zucchini, mid May to the end of August is more ideal and realistic for optimum production.
That gives me about three solid months of growing season for zucchini, which is plenty of time. For a long time I would start my seeds indoors to get a jump start, but found out, when it comes to zucchini, that really isn’t necessary. Now I direct sow my seeds into the garden at the beginning of May and by the end of June I am picking plenty of zucchini.
Those of you that are in growing zones 6a and higher, you can get away with direct sowing your seeds. If your growing zone is less than 6a you may still be able to get away with direct sowing zucchini seeds. However, your growing season is shorter therefore you might want to start some zucchini seeds indoors.
In years past I would plant my zucchini about eighteen to twenty-four inches from each other. I did this to help save on a bit of space. What I found out was that my zucchini plants became more susceptible to powdery mildew. When I moved them further apart (at least thirty inches), I noticed they would develop far less of this destructive fungal disease. My research concluded that allowing more air to circulate around the plant helped reduce powdery mildew.
MOVE THEM AROUND EACH SEASON
Squash bugs, stink bugs, and squash vine borers are just 3 of the destructive insects that will set their sights on your zucchini plants. While these insects are harmless to humans, they are far from that when it comes to zucchini. They will suck the life out of your plants in a matter of days.
If you are like me and you do not like to spray your plants with harmful pesticides, one of the best methods I have found in battling these pests is to simply move your zucchini plants around from one season to the next. A practice you should really use in all crops, but especially with zucchini.
Is this method full proof? Of course not, but is has definitely helped me prolong my zucchini season. Using this tip along with planting my zucchini between peppers and cucumbers has helped out a great deal.
HARVEST AT THE IDEAL SIZE
If you have ever grown zucchini or have ever seen a friend, neighbor or relative grow zucchini then you probably know how fast zucchini can grow. A two inch zucchini today can be a foot and a half zucchini tomorrow. They grow that fast! The ideal size to pick, in my opinion, a zucchini is ten to twelve inches. I find that any shorter and there simply is not enough to the zucchini to eat and if picked any longer the zucchini has way too many seeds.
As with any plant, zucchini are no different, they must be fed in order to produce. Feed your zucchini plants weekly with a good fertilizer, compost tea and so on. Don’t be shocked if you get a couple of zucchini early and then nothing for a week. They come in bunches. Just be patient.
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person as well as the creator of the Seeds of the Month Club where members receive non gmo, heirloom variety seeds every month. You can listen to Mike each week on the Vegetable Gardening Podcast where he interviews gardening industry experts.