How to Grow Zucchini Squash
Zucchini is a member of the the squash and pumpkin (or cucurbita) family
of vegetables. It is perhaps the best known, and most joked about of the
many varieties of squash. Zucchini is indeed a prolific
producer. A couple of plants in the garden, and you have plenty for family,
neighbors, and friends. By mid-summer, you can't give zucchini away, as everyone
has two or three on the kitchen counter, or in their refrigerators. Along
with being a prolific producer, zucchini also readily cross breeds with many
members of the cucurbita family, including pumpkins. Some very strange and
interesting cross breeds (Mutations!) can result in future crops if you save
There are literally hundreds of recipes of zucchini. Enjoy them in generous
quantities in the summer, as they are not good keepers. When the gardening
season is over, they are gone.
World Record Zucchini: We have all seen some pretty big monster zucchinis
hiding under the luscious leaves of our plants. But, you just might not believe
how big they can grow. World Record Giant
Zucchini is a summer squash. This family of squash has soft, edible skin,
with a short shelf life.
While many gardeners think of Zucchini as a specific variety, there are actually
a few specific varieties with similar, yet different traits.
Popular, common varieties:
Black Beauty - This Heirloom is the most popular variety. Dark green
fruits taper toward each end. They are best picked when 6 to 8 inches in
length. Large, big-leaved plants, can sprawl across the garden as the season.
Zucchini Bush - This space saving variety is perfect for small gardens and
containers. High yields and disease resistant.
Zucchini Dark - Dark, dappled skin. It tastes great sliced, shredded or cooked
in your favorite recipe.
Garden Spineless - This variety offers great tasting zucchini without the
scratchy stems. Open growing habit, make s picking easier and painless.
Days to Maturity:
The plants are fast growers. Plant seeds today, and you will be eating them
in about 45 to 55 days.
How to Grow Zucchini Plants:
Growing zucchini plants is easy, perhaps too easy.
Plant seeds in rows or hills, planting seeds one inch deep. Row spacing is
dependent upon the variety you are planting. In hills, plant four to five
per hill. After they have germinated, keep the best two to three zucchini
plants. Water the first day and if there is no rain, every two to three days
until they germinate. Zucchini plants like well drained soil, but will grow
in most soils.
We chuckle at the idea of adding fertilizer to such a great producer, but
some soils are poor in nutrients. If your soil is poor, or if last year's
crop was less than stellar, a side dressing of fertilizer and regular feedings
of fertilizer will significantly improve the health of the plant, and the
size of the harvest.
Garden Growing Tip: An individual plant can produce fruit all the
way to Fall frost. But, most plants lose their vigor, or fall victim to insect
and plant disease. It can also sprawl across the garden, with only the growing
tip producing new fruit. We recommend a second planting right around the
first of July. The second crop will be more vigorous and productive in the
second half of the year, than an older plant
Insects and Pests:
The Cucumber Beetle is the dreaded pest of the cucurbita family. There is
no exception for zucchini. Cucumber Beetles are either striped or spotted.
They feed on the leaves of the plants, and can cause even greater damage
by spreading disease from one plant to another.
Squash Vine Borers are another
huge threat. We consider Squash Vine Borers Public Enemy #1 of the cucurbita
family. They bore into the vine, near the base of the plant. Given a little
time, they will chew right through the vine, killing the plant.
Cucumber Beetles are effectively controlled with most insecticides. Squash
Vine Borers require stronger insecticides. Read the insecticide label, to
make certain it is effective against Squash Vine Borers.
A variety of other pests can also cause problems, depending upon where you
Diseases of Zucchini Plants:
As a member of the Cucurbita family, zucchini plants are susceptible
to a variety of bacteria and fungus diseases. Among the most common, are
powdery mildew and bacterial wilt. Plant disease problems are most common
in hot and humid weather, and especially towards late August as the plant
is aging and weakens. Promoting a strong, healthy plant, coupled with fungicide
treatment, will help to avoid these problems.
Treat with fungicides at the first sign of problems.
Plant Problems - Diagnosis,
causes and cures for many common plant problems.
Like other summer squash, harvest when fruit is young (four to six inches)
and tender. Some people wait until the fruit becomes a monster. While still
edible, it is tougher and the skin may need to be peeled.
Some people enjoy seeing just how big they can grow them! If this is you,
grow one or two monsters for show. Pick small ones to eat.
Zucchini plants are not a hardy plant. It is susceptible to frost in the
spring and fall. They are also very susceptible to insects and disease.
Fortunately, these prolific producers overcome these threats to produce a
bountiful crop. As you plan to grow, them make sure those plans include how
to use the large quantity you will have.
Zucchini Garden Recipes:
Recipes: May we suggest:
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