Growing Zucchini: Planning a Vegetable Garden

 Growing Zucchini

Growing Zucchini
Growing Zucchini

Growing zucchini is not difficult at all. If you provide it with even half-way decent soil and give it 6 or more hours of sun a day, you’ll be rewarded with a bountiful harvest.

You can grow zucchini in containers, in the garden and even vertically!  And of course with their legendary production, you can look forward to snacks, appetizers, side dishes, main meals and desserts, all featuring this versatile veggie.  It’s one that no garden should really be without.

Requirements for Growing Zucchini

Like most other curcubits (which include squash, pumpkins, melons and such), zucchini likes warmth and sun.  Known as a summer squash, it’s closely related to yellow and patty-pan squash.  Keep this in mind if you plan to save seeds from your harvest — all three of these plants can cross-pollinate, so you’ll want to keep them apart.

Zucchini is what’s knows as a heavy feeder.  What this means is that it likes good soil, a balanced fertilizer (preferably organic) and plenty of water.  The vines also have a tendency to sprawl, so keep that in mind when evaluating how much space you have available.

If direct seeding outdoors, plant your seeds about 1 inch deep, 2 feet apart, after the soil has warmed to at least 65 degrees.  Or, you can do as I do — start them inside planted in a jiffy peat disk, then plant them outside, disk and all, about 2 weeks later.  While zucchini will tolerate cooler weather, they really do prefer warmth.

However, I will say that I planted mine outside and then got an unexpected drop into the 30’s for 2 nights.  The zucchini didn’t seem to be bothered by it, but maybe because it warmed up fairly quickly after.  And since the days have climbed into the low 80’s (the past 10 days), they have been growing more vigorously.

Grow Zucchini Vertically

If you don’t have a lot of space, or would just like to get the fruits off the ground, try growing zucchini vertically.  You can do this from the ground up (on a fence or trellis) or upside down (hanging from a grow bag or in a topsy-turvey planter — they aren’t just for tomatoes).

The biggest advantage in growing this way (aside from freeing up space) is that the plant and fruit and leaves mostly stay off the ground.  This means that air circulation increases (helpful for preventing or lessening fungal diseases) and fruit rotting due to being in contact with the soil.

As you can see in the photo, I planted 2 zucchini plants in a grow bag, hanging from a tree.   They seem happy, don’t you think?

Are They Ready Yet?

So, when can you begin picking your zucchini?  Check your seed packet to see if there is a recommended harvesting size, but personally, I like them around 5 or so  inches — young enough to be tender, old enough to have flavor.

Oh, also check your seed packet to verify the color of your fruits!  Yes, this versatile veggie comes in more colors than the standard green you see in the grocery store.  And (surprise!) zucchini also come in more than one shape — some are long and thin (like what you see in the grocery store), some are shorter and rounder.

Finally, harvest your zucchini often.  If you let them get ripe on the vine, the plants will stop producing.  By keeping the plants plucked, you keep your harvest going longer.

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