Zucchini plants are a classic summer addition to the garden. Almost everyone adds a zucchini plant or two to their backyard. Even those with a black thumb seem to have success with zucchini plants. Growing zucchinis is relatively easy.
I chose to grow zucchini plants in our very first garden. I didn’t think it would be too hard. For the most part, zucchini plants grow faster and produce a large harvest. I remember my parents growing zucchinis along the fence near our driveway. They grew so large that my dad couldn’t drive to the end of thedriveway without damaging the plants. My mother made him park in the front of the house until fall!
Starting Seedlings Indoors
There are two ways to plant zucchinis – seedlings or seeds. If you want to start your seeds indoors, you should start them about two weeks before your last frost date. It is important to be careful when starting zucchini seedlings inside.
Unlike other plants, zucchini plants have very long roots that become attached to pots easily. You need to ensure that you put your seeds in deep pots that are at least several inches. If not, you risk breaking the roots when you transplant the seedlings into your garden.
The great thing about growing zucchinis is that you don’t need too many plants. Each plant typically produces 16 or more fruits. You will be overrun with zucchini before long! Our family of five plants four and always have extra leftover. If you don’t want to have zucchinis coming out of your ears, scale back on the number of plants you grow.
Prepare for Growing Zucchinis
Once you have to your seedlings growing, you need to select an area to grow your zucchinis. These plants need full sun to survive well, so pick an area that receives at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight.
The soil should be rich and well-draining. Before you plant, it is a good idea to prep the soil to add more rich nutrients. Add peat moss, compost and manure to your soil. Zucchini plants prefer a soil with a pH level between 6 and 7.5. If you need it to be more acidic, try adding pine needles. Lime helps to make thesoil more alkaline.
PRO TIP: Make sure that you mix and hoe up the ground at least 12 inches deep. Remember those roots are going to reach down deeply! If the soil doesn’t seem to drain as well as you want, you can create hills for the plants. You create hills of dirt that are eight inches high. Doing so creates an area for the water to go.
Planting Zucchini Plants
It is crucial to remember that zucchini plants are NOT frost friendly. If you put them outside in your garden before the threat of frost has passed, you risk losing all of your plants. So, it is recommended that you wait one week after your final frost date. Those dates are just estimates and waiting an extra week ensures you don’t encounter any frost.
You might also want to check the soil temperature before planting, especially if the temperatures fluctuated recently. The soil temperatures should be at least 55 degrees F. Typically; this temperature is reached once the threat of frost passes.
Mark where you want to plant your zucchinis. Zucchini plants tend to grow rather large, so you should plant each one two to four feet apart. You also want to leave eight to 12 feet between rows. Growing zucchinis requires a lot of room! They like to spread out everywhere. Spacing your rows far apart allows you space to harvest the fruits from the plants without stepping on them.
If you decided to start your plants from seeds outside, you want to create a small inch ½ inch deep and put the seed inside of the hole. Cover with dirt and make sure that you water deeply!
Taking Care of Your Zucchini Plants
Once planted, it is time to take care of your plants. Luckily, they are fairly simple. You should water an inch deep throughout each week of the growing season. You want to water below the leaves otherwise diseases can spread. You can stop the rain, but try to water the base or install a drip irrigation systems.
While the plants are still growing, you want to keep the area free of weeds until the leaves are wider. The broad leaves stop weed growth later. However, in the beginning, the plants prefer not to compete with weeds for nutrients. You also will want to give them a good dose of a 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer.
Once your seedlings are established, it is a good idea to mulch around the base of your plants. Organic mulch keeps the soil temperature stable and also helps to retain moisture. Organic mulch choices include shredded leaves, straw, old hay, and grass clippings. They have abonus of adding nutrients back into the soil as they decompose.
Soon, you will notice male and female zucchini blossoms developing. Once pollinated, the zucchini fruits grow quickly! You will want to harvest them when they are between four and ten inches long. However, some people prefer to let them get even bigger when they make zucchini bread.
When you harvest the zucchini, you can try to twist them from the vine gently. Do not yank or pull! If they don’t come off easily, use pruning shears to cut them from the vine. If you pull too hard, you can break the entire plant.
Growing zucchinis is a summer tradition for many families and gardeners. Chances are your plants will produce you so many fruits you will have to give them to your friends and family members. These plants require little upkeep aside from frequent watering.
Aside from the onset of pests or diseases, your plants will grow well in most conditions. Remember to add nutrients to the soil before growing, mulch around the plants and harvest the fruits frequently. This summer is sure to give you a great zucchini harvest!