Growing Zucchini

If you enjoy summer squash, try growing zucchini, another variety of summer squash that is green instead of yellow. It is delicious and easy to grow.

Summer refers to when the squash is grown and eaten. Winter squash is still grown in the summer but harvested and eaten in the winter.

Big plants are late to begin bearing, but then yield consistently over a long picking period. Best picked small, 4-5" long. Organically grown.

Days to Maturity: 58

CULTURE: Zucchini squash likes fertile, composted, well-drained soil.

DIRECT SEEDING: Sow beginning in late spring after danger of frost, when soil temp. is minimum 62° for treated seeds and 70° for untreated seeds. Seeds will rot in cool soil, especially cool, wet soil!

Sow two to three seeds every 9-12" (thin to 1 plant), 1/2-1" deep; or sow about 4" apart (thin to 1 plant/ft.), rows 5-6' apart.

Growing zucchini is easy. Plant zucchini seeds in mounds of dirt called hills. Put six seeds to a hill. Later, you can thin to three plants per hill once the danger of frost has passed. Place the hills in full sun in well-draining soil that has been treated with compost. Fertilize the plants once a week with fish fertilizer and water often. Don't let the soil get over-dry. Be very careful if you are in a hot, dry climate like Texas.

ROW COVERS: AG-19 (heavier grade) floating row covers will provide about 4° of frost protection, and add warmth for vigor and earlier harvest.

DISEASES: If the first few fruits wither, blacken, and/or fail to enlarge, it indicates absence of pollination, remedied when male blossoms appear and provide pollen. Virus diseases tend to be cyclic; watch for resistant varieties.

Downy mildew may occur in cool, damp weather, powdery mildew in hot, droughty periods and in the fall. Till in the vines before winter or remove and compost mildewed plants. Copper fungicides offer some control.

More on Growing Zucchini

INSECT PESTS: Protect young plants with floating row covers. Cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and vine borers can be a challenge. Rotenone and pyrethrin offer some control. Squash bug eggs laid on underside of leaves may be located and crushed. Keep borders well mowed.

For vine borers, use rotenone around the base of young plants. Cut borers out of vines and hill soil over the wound. Clean up refuse in the fall, and spring-plow the ground to bury the pupae.

HARVEST: Harvest regularly, two to three times a week depending on age of plants and growing weather. Pick the zucchinis when they are about six inches long and 3/4 inches in diameter. Letting them get bigger than this will affect the taste.

STORAGE: Refrigerate at 32-50°F and high humidity to store 1-2 weeks. Can also be canned but not as good as fresh.

Click here to visit our page on zucchini seeds.

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