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When to Plant Zucchini
Zucchini is a warm-season crop that cannot tolerate frost or freezing temperatures, so its best to plant your zucchini in the early summer, when temperatures are at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Zucchini grows fast and plentiful—approximately one to two inches per day, and can produce up to ten pounds of zucchini squash per plant. They take about two months to harvest, can also be sowed and harvested multiple times per growing season.
How to Plant Zucchini
Zucchini is a vine that grows quickly but can take up a lot of space in your garden. Grow your zucchini on a trellis if you don’t have a lot of space.
- Zucchini grow best with a lot of direct sunlight. Prepare a spot in your garden with full sun and rich, loamy soil. You can mix organic compost into your soil to help your zucchini grow.
- Once outside temperatures are warm, with lows of 70 degrees Fahrenheit or more, and your soil is at 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you are ready to plant your zucchini seeds.
- Sow the zucchini seeds at least two to three feet apart, in holes approximately one inch deep. Drop seeds in the holes. Zucchini is an abundant crop—one zucchini plant produces about six to 10 pounds of produce—so be sparing when planting zucchini. If you are growing your zucchini on a trellis, space your trellises approximately two feet apart, and plant your zucchini in front of the trellis.
- Water your zucchini plants consistently.
8 Tips for Growing for Zucchini
The journey to zucchini is far from over once you've planted seeds in your garden beds. Your zucchini plants need plenty of TLC from sow to harvest. These tips below will help your zucchini grow its best.
- Water generously. Zucchini and all squash vegetables need to be watered well to grow. Add about one inch of water, depending on the soil moisture. If it feels too dry, add an extra inch of water. When the weather is cooler in early spring, water your zucchini about once a week, increasing to two or even three times per week once with air temperature increases.
- Invest in good soil. For zucchini plants, you’ll want a soil with good drainage and rich in loam, which is a combination of three soils. The ideal soil ratio for a vegetable garden is approximately 40% sand, 40% silt, and 20% clay. You'll also want to consider adding mulch, compost, or other organic matter to your garden to improve your vegetables' health.
- Use a natural or organic pesticide. Like all summer and winter squash, zucchini is prone to pests like squash vine borers, cucumber beetles, or squash bugs. Critters or insects snacking on your vegetables are an inevitable part of maintaining your own garden. For bugs, use an organic or noninvasive pesticide. Keep critters or larger animals from getting into your crops with a net or fence around the perimeter of your garden.
- Compost and mulch your soil. The organic and biological materials living in compost (which include fungi, bacteria, minerals, among others) help activate the soi. This promotes strong immunity in your plants, and expands the life of your crops as well. Mulching the top layer or adding fertilizer of your soil can also give your vegetables a head start in growth. Be careful of how much you add—too much fertilizer can cause blossom end rot or other diseases.
- Weed often. Weeding your garden is an essential step for proper plant maintenance. Make weeding part of your everyday gardening routine. You'll want to do this in the morning, when the soil is damp and the weeds can easily be removed. Weeding often can prevent fungus like powdery mildew or plectosporium blight from infecting your plants.
- Hand pollinate. If pollinators are scarce and your blossoms are dying before they're able to produce fruit, try hand pollinating your zucchini flowers. This involves identifying the male and female flowers—male flowers have a single stem, possess pollen, and do not produce fruit, while female flowers have multiple stems and a thicker, zucchini-shaped base. Once they've been gendered, gently rub the pollen from the male flower onto the stigmas of the female flower. If pollination is done successfully, you should see improved growth in your fruit.
- Keep a diary. Keep notes of when and where you planted your vegetables, if pests or critters are interfering, or any pertinent details to the development or health of your crops. You'll want to be as detailed as possible when logging, ideally everyday. Starting a garden is an investment of time and labor, and the best way to reap those rewards is through daily logs.
- Consider companion planting. Zucchini makes a good companion plant, meaning you can plant them in close proximity to other vegetables, such as garlic, peas, mint. There are many benefits to companion planting, like improved plant growth, pest control and maximizing garden space.
How to Harvest Zucchini
Once the zucchini reaches its adult stage, it is ready to harvest. The ideal length of your zucchini should be about five to eight inches.
Use a sharp tool, such as pruners or a small, sharp knife, to separate the zucchini from its stem. You'll want about two inches of the stem to remain on the fruit. If grown correctly and healthily, you should be able to harvest zucchini multiple times in one growing season.
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