Zucchini is an easy plant to grow that will delight your taste buds from summer to fall.
Zucchini important facts
Name – Cucurbita pepo
Family – Cucurbitaceae
Type – vegetable
Height – 12 to 16 inches (30 to 40 cm)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – rather light but especially well drained
Harvest – 2 months after sowing
- Health: health benefits of zucchini
Sowing and planting zucchini
Zucchini is a fruit / vegetable that grows in all our climate zones and only requires two things: sun and water.
Growing zucchini can be started either from seeds from spring to summer, either from young plants purchased in nurseries at the beginning of spring.
Zucchini is one of the easiest seeds to sow and is perfect for beginner gardeners.
Sowing zucchini indoors
Sowing indoors starts in March or April.
- Sow seeds in seed holes using small nursery pots, with 2 to 3 seeds per pot.
- Lightly cover with soil mix and sprinkle water to keep the substrate a bit moist.
- Once the sprouts have raised, transplant the more vigorous ones directly in the ground in either April or May, depending on the climate zone.
- Provide for about 1 square yard (1 square meter) per plant, because zucchini needs space to grow.
Sowing seeds directly in the ground
Direct sowing in the ground can start end of April to beginning of May, once all risk of freezing is past.
To sow zucchini directly in the ground, be sure to wait for the last day that freezing can occur for your region before sowing.
- Direct sowing is the method to use for sowing from April until the end of summer.
Use the seed hole sowing technique with a depth of around 1 inch (2 or 3 cm) and a distance of 24 to 32 inches (60 to 80 cm) between seed holes.
- When the plants reach a height of 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm), thin them so that they may develop normally.
- If you choose to sow in pots, transplant them to the bed 4 to 6 weeks later.
This has an added benefit of protecting the young plants from slugs until they are well developed.
A special tip: Zucchini must cross-pollinate between male and female flowers to bear fruits. It helps to have several plants for fruits to develop well and to increase the harvest. Each plant usually bears both male and female flowers.
If your time is short and you forget to sow in the spring, it is possible to plant zucchini from seedlings purchased in nursery pots at the end of spring or the beginning of summer.
- Don’t transplant them to the ground too early, because lack of sun or excess moisture could kill them.
- Keep sufficient spacing for the zucchini to develop well (around 1 square meter per plant).
- Water regularly, especially at the beginning, to speed root development up.
Caring for and growing zucchini
Caring for zucchinis from planting to harvest means following several practices that will help you produce beautiful fruits.
These practices will help develop the taste of your zucchinis as well as keep diseases at bay.
- Remove weeds as they appear.
- In case of hot temperatures, water without wetting the leaves, or powdery mildew will appear on the zucchini leaves.
- Remove damaged leaves immediately, especially if they show the symptoms of the disease.
Soft flesh guarantees a savory taste and easy digestibility.
The larger the fruit, the larger and more numerous the seeds inside become.
Harvesting takes place around 2 months after sowing.
- Choose first those zucchini that are just starting to ripen, because seeds are present in those that are already ripe. The seeds are a bit unpleasant when eating the fruit.
- It is also preferable to harvest them before they get 8 inches (20 cm) long for the long varieties, and 4 inches (10 cm) across for the round varieties.
If they are harvested any larger, they lose their taste.
Protecting zucchini against powdery mildew
This thin white velvety layer that covers zucchini leaves like white powder and poisons the plant is called powdery mildew.
This disease is a fungus that sucks the sap from the plant, draining the plant and weakening it sometimes to the point of death.
Treating the plant adequately in a timely manner is needed to get rid of powdery mildew, since it can even spread to most of the gourd family plants that you might have in your vegetable garden, like squash and pumpkin, cucumber or melon.
- Use pruning shears, but disinfect them beforehand with 90 proof alcohol.
- Cut and destroy sick leaves immediately (never in the compost).
- Wipe your pruning shears with alcohol after every single cut.
- Spray a sulfur-based preparation that can be found in local stores.
- It is also possible to use baking soda, mixed to a ratio of 0.2 oz to a quart (5 grams per liter) + one teaspoon of Marseille soap.
- Finally, if the powdery mildew keep attacking, or if the plants are decimated by the invasion, only a myclobutanil-based treatment can eradicate it. Take care to follow recommended dosages.
All there is to know about zucchini
Originally domesticated in Central America, zucchini is actually a young squash harvested before having matured completely. It’s a key ratatouille ingredient.
It also offers during the summer beautiful edible yellow flowers.
Considered a vine, this plant’s long or round fruits have a high water (95%), calcium, magnesium and potassium content.
They also have high mineral, vitamin, fiber and trace elements.
The many different varieties produce fruits of many different colors, sizes, and tastes that can bring touches of green, white or yellow in shapes both round and long to your vegetable patch.
Among the most interesting zucchini varieties, make sure to try the ‘Ambassador’, ‘Black beauty’, ‘Diamond’, ‘Gold rush’, ‘Grey Zucchini’, ‘Splendor’, or ‘Ronde de Nice’ with its delicious round fruits.
Smart tip about zucchini
Avoid wetting the leaves when watering, it’s the best way to avoid powdery mildew.
Zucchini in a basket by Carl F. Bagge ★ under © CC BY 2.0
Sprouting zucchini by Pasquale Trubia ★ under Pixabay license
Flowering zucchini by AllNikArt ★ under Pixabay license
Zucchini fruits on plant by Antonio José Céspedes López ★ under Pixabay license
Zucchini ready for cooking by Angele Jeanne ★ under Pexels license
Zucchini cut on lawn (also on social media) by Cornelia Gerhardt under Pixabay license
Zucchini cluster for harvest (also on social media) by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work