Zucchini or courgette is a summer squash from the Cucurbitaceae family. Although it’s considered as a vegetable like a cucumber, spaghetti squash, etc, it’s botanically classified as a fruit.
It’s highly rich in several essential nutrients in raw as well as cooked states. Growing zucchini in your own garden, therefore, has lots of benefits and it’s fairly easy too!
It’s very simple to learn to grow zucchini in your kitchen garden. Only a few plants can yield enough quantity to suffice for your family for the entire year.
This is what makes planting zucchini in your garden a great idea for beginners as well as expert gardeners!
The high yield of zucchini has resulted in a joke about a gardener dropping bags of this summer squash on the neighbor’s doorsteps and running away.
But that’s only on the lighter side; you won’t need to do any such thing! You can prepare loads of recipes with this versatile veggie. It can even be frozen to be used throughout the entire year.
Grow Your Own Zucchini
Being a summer squash, Zucchini flourishes in warm climate under direct sun. It can grow even if there’s some lack of sunlight, but the yield gets reduced.
When planning to grow zucchini indoors, it’s best to sow the seeds about 4-6 weeks prior to the end of frost (April end or May beginning). Let the saplings become healthy before planting them in the open (only after the last frost). Follow the undermentioned steps for best results :-
- Fill up the seed starting pack with moistened seeds and pack it up with soil.
- Put only a couple of seeds in each cell and push them down by about an inch. Place another layer of seeds.
- Water adequately and put the tray at a warm location till germination. You can place a heat mat and a lighting arrangement too.
Note. Use a larger plant tray because it’s a prolific plant.
- Remove the weaker saplings from each cell.
- The hardened saplings can be either shifted into bigger containers or transplanted in the garden.
Note. It’s a myth that zucchini doesn’t flourish when transplanted. I can tell you with years of experience, that it does. You’ve to just ensure that it has space to grow and the seeds are sown properly.
In case your planning to plant zucchini directly in your outdoor garden, then you must the seeds only after the last frost (soil temperature should’ve crossed 680 F (250 C).
Plant 3 seeds around an inch deep in hills that are about 3 feet apart from each other. You can prune away the weaker plants after they’ve grown leaves; although you can leave them all to grow.
Grow Your Zucchini in Fall Garden
Although summer is the best time to grow zucchini, it does fairly well even during the fall season too. As a matter of fact, it grows better in fall as compared to spring.
Plant the seeds or saplings in July/August so as to harvest in September/October. You may have to cover them with a removable row cover for protection against frost. Remember to take off the cover during daytime for natural pollination.
Care and Maintenance.
Zucchini needs a large amount of fertilizer because of its fast growth rate. Add lots of manure or compost to the soil during fall or early spring.
Although this is generally sufficient for the nutrient requirement of your zucchini, you can add extra fertilizers during the growing season too. Take care to water the plants adequately and allow them to get a good amount of light.
Zucchini is a fast-growing plant and it’ll normally be ready for harvesting in just 40-60 days. The male flowers (with longer stems) grow before the female ones (with a small fruit at its base).
With good pollination, the zucchinis will be ready for harvesting in just 4-8 days after the female flowers are fully developed.
Zucchinis are best for consumption when they’re still tender. So, pick them as they grow to about 4-6 inches long. It’s a good practice to regularly keep checking the plants and picking the zucchinis that are ready.
This not only maintains good productivity for the plants but, will also ensure that you don’t get overripe zucchinis (which you can still use to make bread). If overripe fruits aren’t picked, they slow down the plant’s productivity.
Use a sharp knife or a garden shear to harvest the zucchini by holding it in one hand. Twisting to break them off the plant can work for larger fruits, but can damage the tender ones.
Always use good quality garden gloves to cover your hands and arms while harvesting because the zucchini plant can be prickly, especially if you’ve got sensitive skin.
Romanesco is a good choice if you’re planning to grow a single type of zucchini. It’s an Italian heirloom; the plant is open and bushy with greyish-green fruits having light green ribs and flecks.
It’s not only decorative, but the fruit is nutty and delicious. It takes about 55 days to be ready with natural open pollination.
Varieties of Zucchini
There are several varieties of zucchini plants; a few most common and popular ones are :-
- Black Beauty Zucchini.
It’s been green since the 1920s and is one of the most common types of zucchinis. This large plant is bushy with an open center and has a high yield of dark green fruits with creamy white delicious flesh. It needs 60 days of open pollination.
- Raven Zucchini.
This is one of the oldest varieties of zucchinis and is very easy to pick because of the plant being virtually thornless and open. It only requires about 48 days with hybrid pollination to give a high and early yield.
- Yellowfin Zucchini.
This yellow zucchini has a rich taste with a buttery texture and the plant is open, bushy and practically thornless. It has good immunity against powdery mildew and cucumber mosaic virus.
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- Golden Zucchini.
It’s a beautiful heirloom zucchini with great taste. Although it’s not as productive as the other green zucchinis, it adds extra color to your dishes. With open pollination, it takes around 54 days to harvest.
How Much Can You Expect to Obtain from a Single Plant?
Zucchinis are prolific producers that bear fruits throughout the entire summer. An average plant can provide you about 6-10 pounds Zucchini in a season.
How Many Plants to Grow?
While you don’t want to grow too many plants, you wouldn’t like to have too little either. On average, a family of 4 persons can get adequate zucchinis for the entire year from 3-4 plants.
For How Long Does a Plant Grow Zucchinis?
It takes about a week’s time to get the first fruits after pollination of the female flowers. If you pick the fruits regularly, while they’re still tender (about 4-6 inches long), the plants will continue to produce till they die due to frost.
Zucchinis are beautiful and tasty fruits, that are very high in several nutrients. The zucchini plant is highly productive, so you must plant only as many as you need. Make a variety of dishes with zucchinis and enjoy this great fruit!