How to grow zucchini in the vegetable garden
November 21, 2017
Summer would not be the same in our home without a pile of zucchini on the kitchen bench waiting to be used and more ready to harvest in the garden. It is incredibly productive and versatile ingredient that really should feature in every family Summer vegetable garden, oh the grocery bills you can reduce with tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini and cucumber.
Zucchini can be raised from seed anytime from mid Spring in a protected location – eg: in sun and protected from frost and cool evenings.
Once there are three leaves it is ready to add to the garden. If you can put the seedlings out for a week to be exposed to the evening and morning chill it is recommended so they are “hardened” and ready for transplanting. This means they do not face the shock of transplant onto top of the shock of being in a non-buffered environment.
Snails enjoy new zucchini seedlings planting in the garden and will quickly destroy them (eg: overnight!)
To protect new seedlings when they are planted in the garden try putting a ring of copper tape around the stem to repel snails. Alternate solutions include a thick ring of fried egg shells, coffee grinds, or a beer trap. A beer trap can be made by burying a lid or dish in the garden bed and filling it with beer. Snails are attracted to the beer and can be removed each morning.
Zucchini plants and leaves grow to a large size, they require space to spread that allows for air circulation. This helps prevent powdery mildew as they grow. One plant per meter or at a minimum, half meter is a good distance apart for multiple plants.
Zucchini plants will not grow well in a container, unless it is of a significant size.
Add bee attracting, or pollinator friendly flowers around and near zucchini plants. Fruiting requires fertilisation of the female flower.
One zucchini plant produces a significant amount of fruit, one or two plants is plenty for a family of 4. In order to keep production at a peak provide consistent, regular water and compost part way through the season.
Water early in the day, rather than late in the day. This allows the heat of the day to dry out the plant prior to night fall and cooler temperatures. Mulch around the base of the plant once it is established.
If you find small fruit is rotting and falling off the plant it is because it has not been fertilised.
For a zucchini to produce fruit it requires the female flower to be fertilised by the male flower. The male flower are distinguishable by being at the end of a long skinny stem, the females have a bulge at the base of the flower that will become the fruit, if fertalised. As mentioned above, planting flowers that attract bees in amongst or around vegetables will help this process to occur naturally. If you have not done this in your vegetable garden you can manually fertilise the plants by using a small paint brush to dip into the center of the male flower and transfer the pollen to a female flower. Ideally, nature takes it’s course and there is no need for this. Since I added flowers to our vegetable garden a few years ago I have seen a significant increase in harvests.
Powdery mildew is a common problem when growing zucchini plants.
To help prevent this issue, leads to fruit rotting and the mildew spreading to other plants in the garden water the plants at the base only, not over the top of the plant. Crowding in a garden bed, and heat can quickly result in mildew.
Remove any leaves that show signs of white powder immediately and dispose of them in the bin, not the compost pile or the green waste.
A solution of one part milk to 10 parts water can be sprayed onto the leaves early in the morning.
Once Autumn arrives and the plants become exhausted it commonly sets in. If you have had your fill of zucchini at this time, remove the plants from the garden and think about what you will replace it with in Autumn.
Monitor the plant closely as the fruit begins to develop. Zucchini that is left unchecked for a few day quickly becomes huge! This is not a great thing with zucchini. A large fruit is referred to as a marrow and it is watery and has less flavour and a poor texture in comparison to a regular sized zucchini. From a flavour and texture perspective it is best to pick them when they are smaller in size.
Zucchini flowers are also edible, they are considered a delicacy. Crumbed, stuffed, fried or baked.
Zucchini is an absolute garden essential. It has a mild flavour that is palatable to even the fussiest of eaters. It can be added to baking in cakes, slices and pastries, fried, grated and hidden in bakes, cubes or sliced in stir fries, or eaten raw in spirals as a noodle or pasta alternative. It can be used in a huge variety of recipes. Some of our most favourite, and those most popular with the A Fresh Legacy community over the past years are listed below. I am looking forward to the point of zucchini overwhelm that inevitably hits part way through summer when my recipe catalogue is exhausted and it is time to think of some new creations so the kids don’t refuse to eat another one!
Here are our favourite zucchini dishes, with new ones to evolve this year now that we are egg, dairy and gluten free.
This recipe is one of the all time most popular recipes on this site over the past years:
Are you growing zucchini this year?
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