Produce can be expensive. Especially if you don't like the use of pesticides and prefer you fruits and veggies to be organic. These are the three biggest reasons why we choose growing zucchini in our own garden.
If you haven't been able to tell from our other posts, we love zucchini. We love zucchini bread, zucchini nachos, zucchini lasagna. We love that you can freeze zucchini and use it for any number of zucchini based recipes.
With zucchini being such a versatile food, we decided to see if we could grow it ourselves. This way we would always have zucchini and we could sleep better at night knowing we would not run out.
Did I mention we love zucchini?
Growing Zucchini Is Easy
Is it easy to grow zucchini? It is definitely easier than growing green beans, but isn't any more difficult than most other item in your garden. But, just like gardening in general, it takes some effort to maintain healthy and productive plants.
We don't like pesticides but we also don't like to weed our garden either. Every season is a race to harvest as much as we can before the pests take the plants over and kill them.
There are, of course, other techniques to deal with zucchini growing problems, but to each their own. We think we do pretty well, if we do say so ourselves.
How to grow zucchini
Interesting fact about zucchini: while most consider it a vegetable, it is actually a fruit. There are several other vegetables that are fruits as well.
The first thing you will want to do is get yourself some zucchini seeds. When you are looking for seeds, we really like Black Beauties. They grow well in our region and grow fairly large (see picture of dog sized zucchini above.
We only mention the detail about Summer Squash and Black Beauty labels so you don't get frustrated if you can't find a seed packet with the actual word "zucchini".
How to plant zucchini
Depending on where you get your seed, they may have directions on the back of the packet. If not, you can just check out this guide and leave it open as a reference when you are ready to plant.
Just like growing yellow squash, zucchini is nice because you can sow it straight into your garden or you can get a jump on the season and start it inside. We like to start ours inside so that we can make sure the plants are ready for the outdoors and the weather.
You can start plants inside using some organic potting soil and a starting tray When to plant zucchini really depends on your specific gardening zone's last frost date. You will want to start your seeds about a month prior.
If you decide to sow them directly into your garden, you'll want to make sure the soil temperature is at least 70 degrees but not over 95.
Do zucchini plants need a lot of sun?
Your plants are able to withstand full sun exposure so you do not need to worry about having a shade for them.
Do zucchini plants need a trellis?
They do not. Your plants are mostly upright and will spread out instead of up.
How much space do your plants need?
We like to use a method called square foot gardening. Essentially, you make planting squares about 3-4 ft x 3-4 ft and make a 3 x 3 or 4 x 4 grid. Each box should be 1 square foot.
Zucchini should be planted 12 - 18 inches apart. We typically would put 2 or 3 seeds in each square to see what comes up and what looks healthiest. Germination is usually 6 - 10 days. So around the 2 week point you will know which plants to cull.
When you plant, you will want to plant each seed about ½ - 1 inch deep. What we would usually do is put the seed in your planting box and just gently press it into the soil until the dirt is up to your first knuckle past your fingernail.
How many zucchini plants should I plant?
Remember when we said we love zucchini and never wanted to run out? We planted WAAAAY more than we needed. When it came time to cull our plants, we decided to leave them. They still grew extremely well and we had a huge harvest.
A single plants can produce up to 10 pounds of fruit in a single season. In our 3 x 3 grid planting boxes we had the initial 9 and then another 5 or 6 we decided to keep. And did I mention we had 2 boxes of them? Our goats and chickens ate well that entire season even after we froze zucchini for after the gardening season.
What we're trying to say is, they are super prolific. If you have a single planting box and plant 18 inches apart, you will still have plenty of zucchini. The plants also grow to be about a foot or so tall but will grow out several feet.
When can I harvest my zucchini?
Zucchini is actually one of the fastest growing vegetables we grow and will reach maturity at around 2 months, give or take a week. Keep an eye on your plants to check for pests and disease and you will get a very nice yield.
Also, when you are harvesting, be thorough when checking for zucchini. We have managed to pass over some that were low to the ground only to find a massive (dog sized) zucchini later.
You will want to harvest your zucchini when they are around 6 inches long. This is when they are at peak flavor. If they get much bigger than that, they tend to lose flavor and taste almost watered down. You can also learn how to freeze zucchini if you have an especially large yield.
Give your zucchini gardening skills a shot this season and let us know how it goes in the comments below.
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