Zucchinis are an excellent vegetable for beginners because they’re easy to grow, quick to mature, and delicious when cooked. Once you learn how to grow zucchini in your garden, you’ll want to plant it every year!
Is Zucchini Squash?
When I think of zucchini and squash, I think of peas and carrots, the two just go together. As a matter of fact, it’s rare that we cook one without the other. Not only do I cook them together, but I also plant both zucchini and squash in my garden together at the same time. However, there is a difference between the two.
All zucchini are considered squash but not all squash are considered zucchini. Confusing right? Let me explain. If you think about squash, how many different varieties can you come up with? Off the top of my head I have yellow, crooked neck, acorn, kuri, butternut, spaghetti, and more. All of them have unique flavors, textures, shapes, sizes, and skin.
Now apply that same thought process to zucchini. I’ve grown a couple of different varieties of zucchini in my garden such as golden, zephyr, green, and round. While they are all different colors and sizes, the taste is pretty much uniform as is the skin.
In closing, all zucchini are squash but not all squash are zucchini, I don’t make the rules but it does make sense?
Do You Need 2 Zucchini Plants to Get Fruit When You Grow Zucchini?
Zucchini grow both the male and female flowers which are needed to produce fruit. However, both the male and female flowers don’t bloom at the same time. Although a single plant will produce fruit, you’ll have better luck growing zucchini successfully in your garden if you have more than one plant so they can cross pollinate.
HOW TO GROW ZUCCHINI
From seed to flower takes about 30 days (find out what other fast growing vegetables you can plant) and the fruit (the actual zucchini) will start to become ready around 45 days. Bigger zucchini take longer time to grow than the smaller ones. If you haven’t tried it yet, zucchini flowers are edible and delicious!
Do Zucchini Plants Need to Climb?
Believe it or not, it wasn’t until recent years that I’ve ever used any type or trellis, fencing, or cage for my zucchini. I’ve always just mounded a big hill and planted them on top. It was the way my mother did it, the way my grandmother did it, so by default, it was the way I did it. It worked for us then and it still works for us now.
Although the zucchini plants will spread out significantly, you don’t need to have something for them to climb on, just lots of room for them to grow.
Does Zucchini Need a Cage or Trellis?
I just shared that it’s not necessary to have something for them to climb on in order for zucchini to grow. However, there are several advantages to doing so. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
Staking up your zucchini plants saves space in your garden, reduces pest pressure and slows down disease, and best of all, it can be done very simply. You likely have the materials to get started right now.
We take advantage of our garden fence and use it to allow the zucchini to climb but there are several ideas for garden cages and trellises, even an old tomato cage will work.
Step By Step On How To Grow Zucchini In Your Garden
1-Plant in Full Sun
You’ll need at least four square feet of space per plant. If you live in a cold climate, you might consider planting them indoors during the winter months or growing them in pots. But for this article we are going to focus on how to grow zucchini in your garden.
Zucchini needs full sun (at least 6 to 8 hours) and consistently moist soil that is high in organic matter. Some zucchini varieties are vining types that require a trellis (see below) or a lot of room to sprawl. There are also bush types suitable for container gardening and small space gardening. Your specific zucchini variety should come with planting specifications on the tag.
When deciding where to plant my zucchini in the garden, I like to pick a place close to the fence (our garden is fenced in to protect from the wildlife and my chickens!) and where it gets full morning sun and some later afternoon sun, but not direct sun during the hottest part of the day.
If you would like to protect your garden from wildlife, we have some tips for you in How To Keep Deer Out Of Your Garden.
It’s important to water well when growing zucchinis. They require a lot of moisture, so make sure you keep an eye on how much water they’re getting. The soil should be moist one inch deep. Just poke your finger down to the first knuckle in the soil to test the moisture.
Because zucchini have so much foliage and greenery, it’s important to water them at the base of the plant. Otherwise you’re just watering the leaves and the roots might be bone dry.
I like to create an opening to allow access to the base of the plant by carefully pruning some of the leaves back. This way I can just go in with my watering can to water the plant without disturbing the plant itself.
Another benefit to watering at the base of the zucchini plant instead of top watering is it reduces leaf mold. Leaf mold occurs when there is too much moisture on the leaves and not enough air flow.
To help your zucchini plant retain moisture, add a nice layer of mulch around the base of the plant.
You’ll need to fertilize your plants at least once every two weeks during the growing season. This will help your plants grow strong roots and leaves. If you’ve been neglecting your plants, you might not notice any growth until after you start fertilizing.
If you have access to manure, Michigan State University shares how to add rabbit manure to your garden for a safe and (sometimes) free fertilizer.
4- Harvest Your Zucchini
All of the waiting is over and now it’s time to reap the rewards of all your hard work!
You’ll need a sharp knife or garden pruning shears, a pair of garden gloves, and a basket to store your zucchini.
Depending on the size you desire will determine when you harvest your zucchini. We enjoy smaller zucchini when cooking as a side dish, generally about 12″ long and 2″ in diameter. However, when we’re making zucchini bread or zucchini fries, we like to use the bigger zucchini that’s around 4″ or more in diameter and longer than 12″.
Once you’ve spotted zucchini that are the size you want to harvest from your garden, take your pruning shears or knife and cut 1-2″ above the fruit. After you’ve cut your zucchini, place it in your basket, careful, it can scratch easily. You’ll want to wear gloves when working with your zucchini plants as they have tiny little needles all over that like to embed in your skin.
What Is The Secret to Growing Zucchini?
Here’s where I depart leaving you with my words of wisdom from years of success, experience, and knowledge passed on to me by my ancestors. Yeah, that’s not going to happen unfortunately.
Truth is, I’ve had stellar years of growing zucchini where every neighbor within driving distance gets door dash zucchini, to other years of nothing but tears of disappointment and maybe a little cussing. You just need to plant and plant again. Some years you get it, and some you don’t.
I’m not going to leave you hanging though, there are a couple of tips you may find helpful to successfully grow zucchini.
- Plant more than you want. If one plant dies, you still have a backup.
- Prune excess leaves and foliage to allow for air flow.
- Inspect on a regular basis, many issues can be addressed if noticed early on.
- Trellis or cage to get the fruit off the ground where it can mold and rot.
- Plant a little later in the season. I’ve found less problems with squash bugs when I wait a little while to plant.
- Use mulch to help with water retention.
- Water at the base of the plant.
If you have any tips to add to this, please send them my way. After all, I’m supposed to be the expert (cough, cough). Not to mention, I’ll never be too old to learn something new. Just like using a trellis instead of growing on the ground.
Lastly, once you’ve learned how to grow zucchini in your garden successfully, you’ll have more zucchini than you know what to do with. Trust me. They literally have memes on social media talking about sneaking zucchini into your neighbor’s house, leaving zucchini in unlocked cars, and reaching your bag limit on zucchini for the hunting season. It’s hilarious.
In all seriousness though, zucchini plants provide an abundance, which is a good thing. However, cooking the same dish over and over until your family forms a mutiny is not. Therefore, we have some yummy recipes for you to try with all that zucchini you’re going to grow this season!
It’s true that zucchinis aren’t really meant to be eaten raw. They’re usually cooked with other vegetables. However, there are some ways to make them taste better when you eat them raw. One way is to slice them into thin strips and then marinate them in olive oil and lemon juice. Another way is to cut them into small cubes and toss them into salads.
Do you have a favorite zucchini recipe? We would love for you to share it with us! Just drop a link in the comments or shoot us an email. We have more zucchini than we know what to do with so we’re always looking for new ways to prepare it!