How to grow zucchini

How to grow zucchini

The Spruce / K. Dave

Many gardeners will tell you that zucchini practically grows itself, and the plants can produce an abundant harvest. Why else would there be a National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day? While zucchini is a prolific grower, that doesn’t mean it can’t use a little assistance from the gardener. Here are five tips to help you get a more reliable harvest throughout the growing season.

Plant in ‘Hills’

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The Spruce / K. Dave

In gardening, the term “hill” refers to a raised mound of soil. While you can plant zucchini in rows, hilling provides several benefits: hills of soil warm more quickly early in the season, if you want to sow seeds as soon as possible after the last chance of frost, plus hills provide better drainage than flat rows. Additionally, planting several zucchini in a hill allows for increased pollination. Whether you choose to buy seedlings or plant zucchini seeds directly in your garden, you should group two to three plants close together for best pollination. Plus, hilling allows you to dig compost in to the soil. Zucchini plants like rich soil, and hilling gives the plants an extra boost of nutrients they’ll appreciate. Make sure plants receive an inch of water per week.

The reason this is important when growing zucchini is because its flowers need to be pollinated to form a viable fruit, and each female flower is only open for one day. No pollination means no zucchini. So, if you have multiple plants growing near each other, your chance of pollination greatly improves.

Monitor Pollination

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The Spruce / K. Dave

In addition to having to manage the short lifespan of zucchini blossoms, you also will need both male and female flowers open at the same time. Only female flowers set fruit. The male flowers are there strictly for pollinating purposes.

New zucchini plants tend to produce a lot of male flowers at first.   This can be frustrating for gardeners when they see a lot of flowers blooming but no fruits forming. Be patient. Once the plants mature a little, they will start setting flowers of both sexes. And thanks to the early male flowers, there already should be plenty of pollinating insects in the area. You will know you have female flowers when you see tiny fruits directly behind the base of the flower.

If you’re really dedicated to your zucchini harvest, you can always take pollinating matters into your own hands. You can remove the male flowers and dust their pollen onto the female flowers to help ensure good pollination takes place. You can also use an artist’s paintbrush to transfer pollen from the male flower on the the female bloom. Moreover, don’t waste those early male flowers. You can still pick them, dip them in batter, and fry them up for a great treat.

Don’t Plant Too Early

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The Spruce / K. Dave

Zucchini does not tolerate frost or cold temperatures.   So you won’t gain anything from planting too early. Even if fruits form during cold weather, they will have pitted skin from chilling injuries. Thus, you should wait until at least mid-spring to plant when the soil warms, depending on your climate. The danger of frost should be completely gone, and the temperature should be reliably above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you do plant a little too early, use row covers to protect your plants at night if the temperature dips below 60 degrees. Plus, keep these row covers handy in the fall to extend your harvest.

Try Succession Planting

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The Spruce / K. Dave

Zucchini is a fast grower, often producing fruit 50 to 60 days from seeding. But because zucchini plants work so hard to produce fruits, it’s only natural that the plants’ production will slow over the growing season.

Some gardeners feel the initial glut of zucchini is more than enough. But if you like a steady supply, succession planting is the way to go. Depending on your climate, you should be able to start new zucchini plants two to three times throughout the growing season to have a consistent harvest.

Luckily, zucchini is extremely easy to grow from seed, and there’s no need to start seed indoors. You can directly sow seed in your garden once your first round of zucchini plants have matured and expect to see germination within days. Many gardeners do this second planting in mid-July or mid-August (or both). Plantings later in the season typically grow even faster than a spring planting.

Look Out for Squash Borers

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The Spruce / K. Dave

Squash vine borers love zucchini.   The adults emerge from their winter hideout in the soil sometime in late June to early July, and one of their first tasks is to lay their eggs at the base of squash plants. When the eggs hatch, the larvae burrow into the stems of the plants and start to feed. This cuts off the flow of water through the stems and can quickly kill your beautiful zucchini plants.

Adult squash vine borers look similar to wasps, but they’re actually moths. Unlike most moths, though, these fly during daylight hours and lay eggs at the base of susceptible plants. To avoid squash vine borers you could outsmart them by not planting your zucchini until mid-July. If there are no zucchini plants in your garden, there is no reason for the vine borer moth to stop by and lay her eggs. Plus, if you do have squash vine borers in your soil, delaying planting for one year can break the cycle of them infesting your plants. The larvae will wake up and not have anywhere to feed, rather than feeding on your plants and eventually reproducing themselves. You can also add row covers to prevent the adults from laying eggs on the zucchini, but you’ll need to hand-pollinate the flowers.

But if you really want early zucchini, there is another way to foil this pest, which requires using foil. You can wrap the base of each stem with a small piece of aluminum foil. You only need to cover about 2 to 4 inches of the stem where it comes out of the ground. If you wrap the foil securely, the larvae shouldn’t be able to bore through it.

Zucchini squash in recent years has overtaken other types of summer squash in popularity as a fresh and cooked vegetable. It is found in almost every garden throughout Florida and on salad bars everywhere as a fresh sliced delicacy. In Windsor, a small community in North Central Florida, the Annual Zucchini Festival someday may be the town’s main claim to fame.

Description

Zucchini is represented by several named varieties (cultivars). Fruits of this member of the Italian marrow squashes grow most commonly in cylindrical shapes, but also in round and intermediate shapes. Fruit color varies from a green so dark as to be near black, to lighter shades of green both with and without stripes, all the way to tones of yellow. Many are highlighted with various degrees of speckling.

Cylindrical fruits range in average size from the 5–6 inch ‘Caserta’ to the longer varieties such as ‘Cocozelle’ that reaches 14–16 inches in length. Most varieties average 3–4 inches in diameter.

Gardeners like to see just how big their zucchinis will grow if left on the plant. Specimens in excess of 20 inches in length and 10 pounds in weight are common. Leaves of zucchini also are quite large, with more notches per leaf than crookneck and straightneck squash. Zucchini leaves also are characterized by having light greenish gray splotches and streaks on the leaf surface. These light markings are sometimes mistaken for a mildew problem.

Like other members of the summer squash group, the zucchini plant has the bush habit rather than the vining habit of the winter squashes. However, within the bush habit, there is a fairly wide range of variations in general plant character, primarily in density and arrangement of leaves.

Varieties may be classified as to bush habit, with a rating of (1) given to the open habit, where the leaves are more sprawling and less cluttered, and a rating of (5) for the most dense habit of upright crowded leaves (closed). Five varieties rated in one test were: ‘Burpee Hybrid’ (1.0), ‘Blackini’ (2.0), ‘Hyzelle’ (4.0), ‘Hyzini’ (4.5), and ‘Black Zucchini’ (5.0). Other varieties of the more open habit are ‘Ambassador,’ ‘Blackjack’, ‘El Dorado,’ ‘Grey,’ ‘Ball’s Zucchini,’ and ‘Caserta’ (semi-open).

Good examples of the closed bush type are: ‘Seneca Gourmet,’ ‘Black Eagle,’ ‘Blackee,’ ‘Burpee Fordhook,’ ‘Long White Vegetable Marrow,’ and ‘Mexican Globe.’ There are many varieties of zucchini offered by seed companies. Many of these zucchini varieties are hybrids (controlled crosses), and many others are open pollinated. All of them may be grouped for descriptive purposes according to fruit color. The following categories are generally recognized: (1) very dark (green-black) such as ‘Blacknini’; (2) dark (dark green) such as ‘Ambassador’; (3) dark green striped such as ‘Cocozelle’; (4) medium green such as ‘Greenbay’; (5) gray-green such as ‘Caserta’; and (6) yellow such as ‘Goldzini’.

Culture

Zucchini is easy to grow throughout the state. It is a warm season vegetable readily injured by frost and freezes. Plant in the fall and spring in all areas of Florida, and also in the winter in South Florida.

Plant seeds directly in the garden, or use containerized transplants. Space plants 24 inches apart (or closer if space is limited) on 36 to 48 inch wide beds. Hill planting is also feasible. Four to six plants will feed an average size family in any one growing season. Fertilize as for other garden vegetables.

Plants have both male and female flowers, a situation that requires insects (bees primarily) for pollination. If bee activity is low, female flowers are likely to drop. Midsummer growing conditions usually result in low yields in Florida.

Insects that bother zucchini in some Florida gardens include leafminers, aphids, cutworms, squash vine borers, squash bugs, cucumber beetles, mole crickets, and fruit worms. Common diseases are downy mildew, powdery mildew, mosaic viruses, and fruit rots. Occasional injury results from root-knot nematodes.

Crossing with other nearby varieties of squash occurs readily. No harm is done, however, unless the seeds are to be saved and planted. Crossing will occur with straightnecks, crooknecks, spaghetti squash, pumpkins, and others.

Most fruits are ready about 40 to 50 days after seeding, depending on variety. Harvest zucchini when young and tender, usually when 6–8 inches long and about 2 to 3 inches around. Some varieties may be edible even at the larger sizes. Keep fruits removed from the plant to encourage other fruits to form.

Zucchini has a stronger, more zesty flavor than the summer crooknecks and straightnecks. A favorite way to enjoy zucchini is to eat it raw either in a salad or as a party dip. Its main nutritional contributions are vitamins A and C.

It has become quite popular to grow zucchini at home. This is because it is so easy to plant zucchini. Also, zucchini plants could produce a large amount of delicious squash. So, let’s see how to grow zucchini from seeds in your garden.

Usually, zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) emerges on a sprawling, big plants, which need a big garden space. However, with seeds bred specifically for container growing and a large container, space-challenged home gardeners can grow healthy zucchini with only a balcony or patio. Some of the compact zucchini varieties include Geode, Raven, Jackpot Hybrid, and Eight Ball. Gardeners can plant zucchini seeds in April, when temperatures are above 60 degrees Fahrenheit consistently.

How to Grow Zucchini

How to grow zucchini

While planting zucchinis, gardeners can either plant them as grouped on hills or individual plants. So, it depends on how you want to grow zucchini depending on how much space you actually have to grow zucchini and how many plants you like to grow. But, does zucchini have seeds? Yes, it does. Now, let’s see how to grow zucchini from zucchini seeds:

Important Tips Related to Growing Zucchini

Watch this video on growing zucchini!

When and Where to Grow Zucchini

Zucchini likes warm weather. You have to wait for planting seeds or transplanting until the soil temperature reaches 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. In warm growing zones, gardeners could plant two zucchini crops, one in the fall and the other one in the spring. In zones 6 or more temperate zones, people grow zucchini as a summer crop in May.

Zucchini requires full sun and moist soil having more organic matter consistently. Some varieties of zucchini are vining kinds, which need some space for sprawling or a trellis. Also, there are bush varieties, which are best for small-space gardening and container gardening. For effective results, go for the zucchini type depending on the space where you like to grow them.

Individual Plants

Once the possibility of frost passed, plant 2-3 seeds about 36 inches apart. The seeds need to be planted around an inch deep. Thin seedlings to a single plant per spot after the seeds sprout and grow their leaves for the first time.

Plants on a Hill

Once the possibility of frost passed, mound the soil up by around 12-24 inches wide and 6-12 inches high. On the hill’s top, place 4-5 zucchini seeds in a circle. Thin seedlings to 2-3 each hill after the seedlings feature their true leaves. Gardeners can even plant zucchini indoors 4-6 weeks before the frost and transplant them in their gardens once the possibility of frost passed away.

More Information on Planting Zucchini

After the seedlings establish, mulch around the zucchini plants. Mulching helps in keeping the soil temperature stable. It even helps in retaining water. These two things help the plants have a larger and earlier crop. Ensure that your plants receive about 2 inches of water every week. If you do not get enough waterfall, it is better to go for manual watering. You can employ a soaker hose or a sprinkler for watering the plants below the leaves to have powdery mildew. When the zucchini fruits are small, harvest the squash. This results in a more flavorful and tender squash.

Control Zucchini Diseases and Pests

Zucchini is vulnerable to various diseases and pests, including squash vine borers, squash bugs, powdery mildew, bacterial wilt, and striped cucumber beetles. To prevent such problems, you need to plant zucchini once the soil is warmed and with row covers if the plants are young. Additionally, this helps to keep the vines off the soil by adding a mulch layer or trellising.

Gardeners can also employ a disease and insect control spray to protect the zucchini plants. Dig out and throw away the plants, which has succumbed to the disease. Do not compost them.

Conclusion

Growing zucchini at home is pretty easy and fun. Now, you know how to grow zucchini in your garden and other important aspects related to growing zucchini as well. So, grow zucchini squash with ease in your garden now. If you are still struggling with growing zucchini, then post your queries in the comment section below. Do not forget to share this article with your other gardening friends who will find it helpful.

Planting zucchini

Planting time: Although you can grow zucchini in the spring, summer, or fall, I highly recommend growing them in the late summer. This way, the plants can continue producing until it gets too cold outside, and then they’ll just die.

Choosing planting site: Select an area that is in direct sunlight for most of the day. Zucchini love full sun, so if you have any spots that are in the shade, you should consider using them for another plant that doesn’t need as much sunlight.

Preparing the soil: Before you plant your zucchini seeds, it’s best to prepare the soil. You can do this by adding compost or manure to help get things started in the right direction. #Planting the seeds zucchini grows well from seed. You’ll have to plant zucchini seeds about 18 inches apart. That way, there will be enough room for them to spread out as they grow.

Planting: After the danger of frost has passed, sow zucchini seeds directly in the garden in fertile, warm soil in full sun. Water the plants when you first plant them.

Caring for zucchini

Light: Zucchini need a lot of light, so they should be planted in an area that gets at least 8 hours of sunlight. If your zucchini aren’t getting enough sun, their leaves will start curling up and turning yellow.

Watering: Zucchini plants require a lot of water. In fact, you should be watering your zucchini plants every day unless the ground around them remains moist. If you let your zucchini plants dry out, they will begin to yellow and die just like any other plant. Use a rain gauge to determine if you’re getting enough water or not.

Temperature and humidity: Like most crops, zucchini prefer similar temperature and humidity conditions to grow optimally. The optimal temperature is between 50-90 degrees, while the humidity should be around 70%. These are things that you’ll have some control over in your home greenhouse or garden bed by using things like a humidifier or evaporative cooler. Watering with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level is ideal.

Fertilizing: You should fertilize your zucchini about once every week or two with manure tea. If you’re doing this in the spring, summer, or fall, make sure to add some compost and fertilizer as well. This is an excellent way to give zucchini all of the nutrients they need to grow.

Common pests and diseases of zucchini

Common Pest and Cultural Problems:

  • Aphids
  • Blossom End Rot
  • Cucumber Beetles
  • Spider mites
  • Squash Vine Borer

Common Disease Problems:

  • Alternaria Leaf Spot
  • Anthracnose
  • Bacterial Wilt
  • Mosaic Virus
  • Powdery Mildew

Harvesting zucchini

Although it’s best to keep zucchini plants alive as long as possible, you do have to harvest them. When the stems start dying and yellowing, that means that it’s time to harvest your zucchini. You can check the stems by giving them a light tug or gently pulling on one of the leaves. Clip the stem that comes off easily with your hand.

To harvest your zucchini, pull the entire plant up by yanking it out of the ground. You should make sure you do this carefully to keep from cutting or tearing the leaves. After removing all of the plants, cut off any part that has not been damaged by pests or disease and then wash them thoroughly before using them in a recipe.

How to grow zucchini

Growing zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) in a garden is very popular because planting zucchini is easy and a zucchini plant can produce large amounts of delicious squash. Let’s take a look at how to plant zucchini and grow zucchini squash in your garden.

How to Plant Zucchini

When planting zucchini, you can plant them either as individual plants or grouped on hills. How you grow zucchini squash is up to you, based on how many zucchini plants you intend to grow and how much room you have to grow them.

Individual Zucchini Plants

After the chance of frost has passed, plant two to three seeds 36 inches (92 cm.) apart. The seeds should be planted about an inch (2.5 cm.) deep. Thin to one plant per spot once the seeds have sprouted and have grown their first set of true leaves.

Zucchini Plants on a Hill

After the chance of frost has passed, mound up soil about 6 to 12 inches (15-31 cm.) high and 12 to 24 inches (31-61 cm.) wide. On the top of the hill, in a circle, plant four or five zucchini seeds. Thin the seedlings down to two or three per hill once the seedlings have their first set of true leaves.

You can also start zucchini indoors in order to get a head start on the season. Start zucchini seeds indoors four to six weeks before the last frost date and plant them out in the garden after all chances of frost have passed.

Information on Growing Zucchini

Once seedlings are established, mulch around the plants. Mulching helps to keep the ground temperature stable and also helps the soil retain water. These two things will help the zucchini plant have an earlier and larger crop.

Make sure that your zucchini plants get at least 2 inches (5 cm.) of water a week. If you don’t receive enough rainfall, supplement with manual watering. Use a soaker hose or another method to water the plants below their leaves as watering using a sprinkler can cause the zucchini plants to develop powdery mildew.

Harvest zucchini squash when the fruits are small. This will result in a more tender and flavorful squash.

Growing zucchini in your garden is fun and easy. Now that you know how to plant zucchini and some tips on growing it well, you can grow zucchini squash in your garden with ease.

Get tips for planting, growing and harvesting your bumper crop of zucchini.

How to grow zucchini

Zucchini Squash

Squash, both summer and winter types, are best grown in the heat. Where squash bugs or squash vine borers are a problem, start seeds indoors and transplant into the garden in late June or early July. Protect with row covers until the plants begin to bloom. Covering the stems with soil as they mature will help protect against squash vine borer damage

Photo by: Debbie Wolfe

Related To:

There’s a reason zucchini, a summer squash, is such a popular crop in the home garden: It’s easy to start, can be grown in containers, and once zucchini plants start producing, they can be amazingly prolific.

Since zucchini seeds will come to maturity quickly — about 45 to 55 days — you can even wait until August to plant for an early fall harvest. In fact, many experts recommend waiting until mid-July to plant so you can avoid infestation of a specific type of squash bug.

Feeling inspired? Here’s everything you need to know about planting, growing, harvesting and using zucchini.

Planting Zucchini

Choose soil that drains well in a sunny area of your yard. Amend the soil with compost or manure as zucchini plants are heavy feeders, meaning they require a lot of nitrogen.

Plant seeds an inch deep, 4 to 5 seeds per hill. If you’re planting in rows, add 2 to 3 seeds per hole and 36 inches apart. If planting in hills, thin to 2 to 3 plants per hill once seedlings emerge.

Growing Zucchini

Here are some tips on caring for you zucchini:

  • Mulching around your zucchini plants after they have emerged can help the soil retain water, especially important if you’re having a dry summer.

Make sure your zucchini plants get at least two inches of water per week.

  • Water zucchini using a soaker hose as watering from a can may lead to mildew on the plant’s leaves.
  • Pollinating Zucchini

    If your zucchini have beautiful blossoms but they fall off with no fruit, then you may need to hand pollinate.

    Most common garden plants produce flowers that have both male and female parts. However, the reproductive processes of squash plants are separated into distinctly male and female flowers. A pollinating insect must transfer the pollen from the male flower to the stigma inside a female flower for fruit to develop. The fruit then develops from the female flower only. Squash plants tend to produce loads of male flowers early in the season, sometimes well before the first females start to show up. This can account for what appears to be a fruit set problem early on as the male flowers are useless until the females arrive.

    The first thing you’ll need to do is identify the male and female flowers. Males have a straight, thin stem just behind the petals. They contain the anther inside, which should be loaded with powdery, yellow pollen. Females are easily identified by a tiny, immature zucchini fruit (or ovary) that sits just behind the petals. Depending on the variety, it sometimes looks more like a thickened stem than a fruit.

    Zucchini flowers tend to open up wide in the morning and are often closed by the afternoon, so it is important to hand pollinate in the morning. Pluck a fully open male flower from the plant. Peel off the petals to expose the pollen-heavy anther. Gently brush the pollen over the stigma of a fully opened female flower. That’s it. Over the next few days you should see the small zucchini begin to swell and grow into a fruit.

    Zucchini Companion Plants

    You can improve your chances of growing a bumper zucchini crop by pairing your zucchini with companion plants that can minimize pests and disease issues or improve the soil. For example, ‘Blue Hubbard’ squash can be used as a “trap crop” to lure squash bugs, cucumber beetles and squash vine borers away from zucchini. Position ‘Blue Hubbard’ several feet away from individual zucchini plants or around the perimeter of your zucchini patch.

    Companion Planting for Zucchini

    Zucchini plants will produce loads of fruit if they don’t get taken down by common pests and diseases. Try companion planting techniques to boost your zucchini harvest.

    Garden vetch (Vicia sativa) is often used as a cover crop as it pulls nitrogen from the air and fixes it in the soil for vegetable crops like zucchini to use.

    Improve the pollination of your zucchini by including flowering plants in your garden. These are great at attracting bees.

    When to Pick Zucchini

    About 45 to 55 days after you plant, you should notice your plants starting to bloom. Make sure to look under the big leaves as it’s easy for zucchini to “hide.” The early, small squash (about 6 inches) are the most tender and flavorful, and picking frequently can lead to a larger crop. Zucchini squash can also get quite large, and you might be amazed at how quickly they grow. Cut your squash from the vine with a sharp knife and store unwashed in the refrigerator.

    Freezing Zucchini

    Since zucchini plants are generally easy to grow, your zucchini garden likely will provide a steady and generous bounty you’ll not want to waste. The good news is that zucchini freezes well. You can feeze it chopped, sliced or grated.

    The zucchini is one of the most well-known summer squash varieties. It is easy to grow and can produce from the last frost of the year to the first frost, given the right growing environment and care.

    This guide will show you everything you need to know to plant, grow, and harvest your zucchini, along with pro tips to keep your plants healthy and producing maximally!

    How to grow zucchini

    What Is A Zucchini?

    Zucchini has other common names, depending on the region. They are also known as courgettes and marrows or baby marrows. While the zucchini is treated as a vegetable, it is technically a fruit. Because of it’s more savory flavor, it is lumped with vegetables along with other non-sweet fruits like tomatoes.

    One thing to note about growing is zucchini is that they need pollinators to produce fruit. If you don’t have a garden buzzing with bees, you are going to have a hard time producing a lot of squash. Luckily, the zucchini plant produces amazing yellow-orange flowers that draw bees in naturally:

    How to grow zucchini

    The zucchini plant is one of the easiest garden plants to grow and can thrive in a variety of conditions. Many people overplant squash plants and end up harvesting more than they can even eat or preserve.

    Luckily, they can be fed to livestock, like chickens and pigs, on the homestead and cut your feed bills as well!

    Zucchinis are typically green but, depending on the variety, can be light green, dark green, or even yellow. They typically grow straight and can get relatively large.

    Most gardeners pick their squash when they are small as it helps the plant produce more fruit and the Zucchini itself is more tender.

    Zucchini Growing Conditions

    The zucchini plant isn’t picky. Just like any other plant, it can thrive and produce a huge harvest, or it can struggle through the growing season and produce less fruit. Here are the main factors that affect the bounty:

    • ☑ Sun exposure
    • ☑ Temperatures
    • ☑ Irrigation
    • ☑ Soil Quality
    • ☑ Fertilization
    • ☑ Pollination

    If you can optimize all of these factors, you can maximize your zucchini yield.

    Zucchini plants do best will full sun exposure of at least 6-8 hours per day. The more sun they get, the better they will grow. The shade will just slow them down.

    As for temperature, zucchini seeds will sprout when the soil temperate reaches 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 21 Celsius). Essentially, they can be sprouted after the last frost of the season. They are quick to sprout and can be put in the ground to grow until the next frost!

    Zucchini plants love water. However, too much water on the vegetation will increase the risk of diseases. That’s why it’s imperative to water at the soil level when the top inch of the soil dries out.

    They prefer a lot of water to maximize their zucchini production and too little water will likely cause blossom end rot, which will ruin the individual squash.

    The soil quality needs to be relatively rich to maximize production, but they can grow in any soil. The more organic matter, like compost, that is in the soil, the more the plant will thrive.

    A neutral pH is perfect. You can simply mix a couple of inches of compost into the planting area to provide optimal soil texture and quality.

    Through the season, you may need to fertilize your zucchini plants to continue the high yield that zucchini can produce. They simply need a balanced fertilizer regularly. You can make compost tea, or use a high-quality organic fertilizer according to its directions.

    Last but not least, pollination will make or break your harvest. The squash plant itself will do its job and produce enticing flowers that are large enough to bring in bees around the area.

    You can also increase your pollination productivity by spacing your plants properly, pruning excess vegetation, and planting pollinator-friendly plants around your garden.

    Here are the most popular zucchini varieties that you can plant in your garden:

    • Black Beauty (my go-to)
    • Dunja
    • Cocozella
    • Golden Zucchini

    There are also a bunch of hybrids that can have different shapes, sizes, textures, and flavors. Each nursery or seed bank typically has unique varieties to choose from so you can try and bunch and save seeds from your favorite.

    ​Starting Zucchini From Seed

    While some garden plants are tough to start from seed, zucchini is not one of them. They sprout quickly as long as the temperature and moisture are optimal.

    As mentioned before, when the soil temperature reaches around 65-70 degrees (18 to 21 Celsius), the zucchini seeds are ready to plant. You can either direct seed or plant in a small container and transplant the seedling later.

    Get tips for planting, growing and harvesting your bumper crop of zucchini.

    How to grow zucchini

    Zucchini Squash

    Squash, both summer and winter types, are best grown in the heat. Where squash bugs or squash vine borers are a problem, start seeds indoors and transplant into the garden in late June or early July. Protect with row covers until the plants begin to bloom. Covering the stems with soil as they mature will help protect against squash vine borer damage

    Photo by: Debbie Wolfe

    Related To:

    There’s a reason zucchini, a summer squash, is such a popular crop in the home garden: It’s easy to start, can be grown in containers, and once zucchini plants start producing, they can be amazingly prolific.

    Since zucchini seeds will come to maturity quickly — about 45 to 55 days — you can even wait until August to plant for an early fall harvest. In fact, many experts recommend waiting until mid-July to plant so you can avoid infestation of a specific type of squash bug.

    Feeling inspired? Here’s everything you need to know about planting, growing, harvesting and using zucchini.

    Planting Zucchini

    Choose soil that drains well in a sunny area of your yard. Amend the soil with compost or manure as zucchini plants are heavy feeders, meaning they require a lot of nitrogen.

    Plant seeds an inch deep, 4 to 5 seeds per hill. If you’re planting in rows, add 2 to 3 seeds per hole and 36 inches apart. If planting in hills, thin to 2 to 3 plants per hill once seedlings emerge.

    Growing Zucchini

    Here are some tips on caring for you zucchini:

    • Mulching around your zucchini plants after they have emerged can help the soil retain water, especially important if you’re having a dry summer.

    Make sure your zucchini plants get at least two inches of water per week.

  • Water zucchini using a soaker hose as watering from a can may lead to mildew on the plant’s leaves.
  • Pollinating Zucchini

    If your zucchini have beautiful blossoms but they fall off with no fruit, then you may need to hand pollinate.

    Most common garden plants produce flowers that have both male and female parts. However, the reproductive processes of squash plants are separated into distinctly male and female flowers. A pollinating insect must transfer the pollen from the male flower to the stigma inside a female flower for fruit to develop. The fruit then develops from the female flower only. Squash plants tend to produce loads of male flowers early in the season, sometimes well before the first females start to show up. This can account for what appears to be a fruit set problem early on as the male flowers are useless until the females arrive.

    The first thing you’ll need to do is identify the male and female flowers. Males have a straight, thin stem just behind the petals. They contain the anther inside, which should be loaded with powdery, yellow pollen. Females are easily identified by a tiny, immature zucchini fruit (or ovary) that sits just behind the petals. Depending on the variety, it sometimes looks more like a thickened stem than a fruit.

    Zucchini flowers tend to open up wide in the morning and are often closed by the afternoon, so it is important to hand pollinate in the morning. Pluck a fully open male flower from the plant. Peel off the petals to expose the pollen-heavy anther. Gently brush the pollen over the stigma of a fully opened female flower. That’s it. Over the next few days you should see the small zucchini begin to swell and grow into a fruit.

    Zucchini Companion Plants

    You can improve your chances of growing a bumper zucchini crop by pairing your zucchini with companion plants that can minimize pests and disease issues or improve the soil. For example, ‘Blue Hubbard’ squash can be used as a “trap crop” to lure squash bugs, cucumber beetles and squash vine borers away from zucchini. Position ‘Blue Hubbard’ several feet away from individual zucchini plants or around the perimeter of your zucchini patch.

    Companion Planting for Zucchini

    Zucchini plants will produce loads of fruit if they don’t get taken down by common pests and diseases. Try companion planting techniques to boost your zucchini harvest.

    Garden vetch (Vicia sativa) is often used as a cover crop as it pulls nitrogen from the air and fixes it in the soil for vegetable crops like zucchini to use.

    Improve the pollination of your zucchini by including flowering plants in your garden. These are great at attracting bees.

    When to Pick Zucchini

    About 45 to 55 days after you plant, you should notice your plants starting to bloom. Make sure to look under the big leaves as it’s easy for zucchini to “hide.” The early, small squash (about 6 inches) are the most tender and flavorful, and picking frequently can lead to a larger crop. Zucchini squash can also get quite large, and you might be amazed at how quickly they grow. Cut your squash from the vine with a sharp knife and store unwashed in the refrigerator.

    Freezing Zucchini

    Since zucchini plants are generally easy to grow, your zucchini garden likely will provide a steady and generous bounty you’ll not want to waste. The good news is that zucchini freezes well. You can feeze it chopped, sliced or grated.