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Growing Zucchini​

Zucchini is a small summer squash and a member of the melon / gourd family. It has an outer skin that can harden if left on the plant for too long - kinda like a watermelon or pumpkin. The immature fruit are best when picked at about 6 inches in length. Zucchini can be yellow, green or light green. It can be compared to a cucumber is shape, with the Zucchini being a little slimmer then an average cucumber when ready to harvest.


When getting ready to plant the seeds, soak the seeds between two wet towels about about 3 days. The seeds that sprout should be planted, the seeds that have not sprouted can be discarded.


While the seeds are soaking, the ground should be worked and prepared for the seeds. Zucchini requires a balanced fertilizer such as 13-13-13. Try not to use straight nitrogen such as 21-0-0, as you might get a large plant that produces little food. For prolonged production, add some organic fertilizer to the mix, such as mulch or manure. A quick release fertilizer might be good to get the plant growing, but those types of fertilizer will do little for future production.


From the time of the planting of the seed, expect about a week to pass before you see a sprout. During the week keep the ground moist to promote growth.


About 2 weeks after planting, expect to see something like the picture below. There will be 2 big leaves, then a sprout will come from the middle of the stem.



This is a picture of the raised bed a couple of weeks after planting the seeds.



On average, expect the plant to sprout a new center stem every week or so.



With favorable growing conditions, expect the plant to take about 6 - 8 weeks (45 - 60 days) to mature to where it is producing food. Raised beds are not the ideal situation for growing Zucchini. The plants can get around 5 feet across. In raised beds the plants will be crowding each other for sunlight, food and water.



Zucchini plants can grow to be pretty good size, so give them lots of room. Try to plant them about 4 - 6 feet apart. 6 feet apart would be more like an ideal distance.



Pest resistance:

Unlike some crops, such as corn, peas and beans which will get eaten by deer and raccoons, chances are the Zucchini plants will be left alone. One reason why deer and other animals do not like Zucchini, is because the stems have hairs, kinda like little spines on the stalks. Animals find parts of the Zucchini plant irritating to the skin and will avoid it. What looks like fine hair in the stem in the picture below is really fine bristles.



Underneath the Zucchini plant is a crowded mess. But you will notice 2 types of flowers. One flower is the male and the other flower is the female. These flowers will usually bloom in the morning before the heat of the day sets in. It is at this time that the bees and other insects pollinate the flowers. It might be important to mention that pesticide should not be put on the flowers, as it might kill the very insects that do the pollination.



Harvesting:
The Zucchini can be harvested by breaking it off the plant. When using a knife, be careful not to cut off the leaves or damage any other part of the plant.



Water requirements:
Zucchini are pretty drought resistant. I have seen fully grown plants survive a month with no rain fall, with day time temps in the mid 90's. Over watering the grown plants may cause the Zucchini to rot on the vine. It is normal for the leaves of the plant to wilt while in direct sunlight. After the sun starts to go down, or when the plant is no longer in direct sunlight, if the leaves return to normal, it has plenty of water. If the leaves are wilted after the sun starts to go down, the plant needs water.
 

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90/10 headed for 95/5
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Thanks Kev! This sort of information goes a long way to filling in one of my largest areas of weakness. Much appreciated!
 

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I was just thinning out/relocating some of my squash plants yesterday. That stuff grows fast. I probably have 30-35 plants, half being crookneck and the other half zucchini.
 

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Learning more each day
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Thanks for including the part of not using chemicals, you need bees, wasps, and other pollinators to get a crop. My wife likes to shread the fruits and freeze them for later use in Zucchini bread if interested let me know and I will have her post her recipe. It it more like a cake than bread and is great year round.
 

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Thank you! We are working on summer squash (yellow and green) right now. I can't get the green ones to sprout- I'm going round 2 with those. But the yellow squash has shot of and has a great start.

It is so encouraging to see such large beautiful plants. :)
 

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You can use zuccini in zuccini bread, it will moisten up chocolate cake, you can make zuccini pickels, you can slice and dry it and add it to soup or stews later on. Or just eat it dried. Not much flavor though. Zuccini is good in salads or sliced and dipped in batter and fried. You can use it in a hot dog relish or cook it in casserols. If you can get past the slightly green tinge, zuccini pie (made from a pumpkin pie recipy) It is good. We have even added it to orange marmalaide when we didn't have enough oranges to use. You can slice it lengthwise and scoop out the center. Fill it with a stuffing bread/meat and bake in the oven. Just before it is done put some cheese to melt over the top. The list goes on and on. Don't forget zuccini pickels, or gratted zuccini mixed in with rice, beans, or fried potatoes.
 

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Bratach Bhan Chlann Aoidh
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I just had some beautifull yellow zuccini, about 6 of them, all nearly 7" long. Put them on the kitchen bench to deal with the next day but when I looked at them in the morning they were covered in little white jumping maggots that had burst out of the insides, like Alien'.
Not only were they all over the Zuccini but they were all over the benchtop and the floor. The little devils 'jump' a good 12" when you get close to them.
Anyone know what they might be?
We don't use any chemicals at all and the Bantams normally clean off any pests.
It was dissapointing, I was looking forward to a nice Ratatouille. :(
 

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my dad and i just started our garden today we have no rototiller so we used a shovel and steeltooth rake to get things started we are going to finish up tommorow hope everything grows got alot of good advise here
 

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One insight I would like to add is to mound your zucchini if you can. Like Kev said, they are big runners and try to avoid watering the plant's leaves as this really only encourages the onset of bug activity and disease. Mulching is a good idea to keep the fruit from rotting and check them often as they are fast producers once they kick into fruit production.
 

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The deer in my area do eat the leaves. My back yard seems to be a resting place for them, saw two spike bucks last week, I wonder.
 

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FYI... I do a lot of gardening, here in Florida... and growing the traditional zucchini is problematic. But, the 8-ball zucchini, read round, grows wonderfully here. So if you ever have problems growing the traditional shaped zucchini, try the round version.
 

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Non semper erit aestas.
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My succhini are attacked by the Porcellio scaber...



What can I do? :(
From here: http://www.gardenplansireland.com/forum/about1655.html

Trouble?
The woodlouse poses no noteworthy threat to established plants or the gardener.
They feed mainly on dead or decaying plants and wood.
if you were to remove the woodlouse from your garden, the decomposition process in the soil would go much slower.
Occassionally they can nibble at the stems and lower leaves of young seedlings.

Organic or cultural control.
None needed normally. However, removing plant debris and rubbish around the site will result in a reduction of numbers.



From here: http://www.heyne.com.au/gardencentre/factsheets/factsheet.php/Chewing+Pests.htm

IDENTIFICATION
These wood lice, jointed creatures which have numerous legs, grow up to about 1 cm long. They live in damp compost and areas where there is decaying wood. Their main food supply is young shoots and soft root tips. They are known to chew young seedling off at ground level. They cause problems with Tree Ferns, Elk and Stag Horns where they feed on the young aerial root tips and they are very fond of Epiphytic Orchids.

The most common garden slaters are the Porcellio Scaber....

CONTROL
They can be controlled by removing their breeding sites (rotting timber, decaying vegetation matter etc) or sprinkling Naphthalene Flakes, Baysol Snail Bait or


I wonder if you can remove any rotting debris from around your plants? Are they mainly attacking seedlings? You could try planting the seeds in pots and when they are a bit large and more resistant to attack, plant them out then. I hope this helps a little, please let us know what is happening with your plants.
 

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Mom Walton
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What a wonderful write up, all the way from planting, to harvest, to the table!! Great photos too! Thank you.

Personally, I quit mulching around zucchini and yellow squash. Too many squash pest like to take cover in the much; the squash bug being the worse. If you are gardening organically and hand pick your bugs, a light sprinkle from your hose will bring them up to the leaf tops where you can catch them.

The leaves of the zucchini will shade the soil, keeping it cool and moist while shading out most types of weeds. If I still lived in TX I would probably start with a mulch I could later remove. I have had much better success without the mulch.

Zucchini is also susceptible to a few kinds of mildew. Most of the time, it is more of a problem for commercial growers. The home gardener can usually get a good crop before it kills the plants. The best prevention is plenty of sunlight, good air flow, and not working around the plants when they are wet. If you water from the air, do it in the morning so the plants can dry quickly by the sun.

First photo is an adult squash bug and its eggs. The second photo is immature squash bug.
http://www.vegedge.umn.edu/vegpest/cucs/squabug.htm
 

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Great job Kev on ly thing I will add is soaking the seeds in Mircle Grow liquid plant food over night has worked well for me,I have had seeds come up in as little as 3 days.The ONLY thing you neglected to mention is that old country story ,,lock your doors cauz if you don't THEY will leave you Zuchinni,,if it makes it REALLY makes .I let a squash grow one year to see how big it would get ,,52 inches ,,too tough to eat, but it was pretty !!
 

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We (wife kids and me) prefer zucchini over squash. Mother never like zucchini. I grew her some yellow hybrids this year.

 

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Zucchini has to be the most prolific plan around. I swear that 3 plants could stave off famine for Ethiopia! I grow both the long variety and the eightball. When a plant really gets producing I toss the medium sized ones to the chickens to keep the supply at a manageable level - they really do produce! Also keep in ind the 8 ball variety is I believe a hybrid. Not sure how long it will breed true.
 
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