If you're new to gardening, growing zucchini is the place to start. It's one of the easiest vegetables to grow from seed. It's simple to care for, grows quickly, and is quite versatile.
While zucchini is known to be a prolific grower--some say it practically grows on its own--it does need a little help from the gardener. Here are 7 suggestions for planting and harvesting an abundant crop of this delicious squash:
1. Plant the seeds in a sunny location
If you want your zucchini to be productive, give them lots of sunlight and add nutrients to the soil in the form of garden compost and well-rotted manure. Plant them where they won't be overshadowed by other plants.
2. Plant them on a hill
After all chance of frost has passed, mound up the soil about 6 to 12 inches high and 12 to 24 inches wide. On top of the hill, plant four or five zucchini seeds in a circle. After the seedlings get their first leaves, thin them to two or three per hill. Sow zucchini seeds on their side so the water runs off. This keeps them for rotting.
3. Don't plant them too early
Zucchini does not like cold temperatures, so don't start them too early. Check out the recommended sowing and planting times for your location.
4. Mulch and water
Once the seedlings are established, mulch around the plants to help keep the ground temperature stable and allow the soil to retain water. These two tips will help the zucchini plant have an earlier and larger crop.
Make sure that your zucchini plants get at least 2 inches of water a week. If you don’t get enough rainfall, water them manually. Make sure to use a soaker hose because watering the leaves can cause the plants to develop powdery mildew.
5. Succession planting adds to the abundance
Zucchini is a fast grower. It will be ready to harvest in 40 to 60 days. Although many gardeners feel the initial harvest of zucchini is more than enough, you can start new plants 2 or 3 times a season and have an even bigger harvest. If you want a steady supply, succession planting is the way to go.
6. Don't wait too long to harvest it
Your plants will start blooming in about 40-60 days. Those early, smaller squash that are about 6 inches long tend to be the most tender and flavorful. If you pick them often, you'll have a larger crop.
Cut your zucchini from the vine with a sharp knife, and store them unwashed in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them.
7. Eat it and share it
Zucchini is packed with nutrients and can be eaten many different ways. Check online for a host of recipes.
You ’ll probably end up with a bigger harvest than you can possibly eat by yourself. When that happens, you can connect with a local food pantry and be generous to the entire neighborhood!