Zucchini – a Versatile Vegetable
Zucchini is in bread, muffins, waffles, quiche, casseroles, salads, soups, stews, pizza…and even cake.
This all-around squash can be stir fried, deep fried, grilled,
or…stuffed and baked.
Zucchini, or couragette, can become fritters, tartines, or garnishes.
My favorite dinner appetizer is breaded, deep-fried Zucchini slices…with Tabasco-spiked spaghetti sauce for dipping.
Even the flowers can be eaten! But, leave a few for pollination…
A Nutritious Addition to Any Table
Zucchini has an impressive resume of being high in Vitamins A, C, fiber content, water content, and other nutrients. This squash helps in the prevention of heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, headaches, and asthma. It strengthens teeth and bones, improves eye health, and aids in weight loss. It also gives you more energy and lowers cholesterol, helping to delay the onset of Atherosclerosis.
A Bit of Trivia…
The longest zucchini, 2.52 meters (8 feet, 3 inches) long, measured on 28 August, 2014, was grown in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. (Wikipedia, Zucchini – Records)
Now, That I’ve Sold You on Zucchini’s Benefits…
Let’s Talk about How to Grow Squash!
This breaks down into; 1) How to grow zucchini and 2) How to grow yellow squash. Because they are both part of the squash family, which, strangely enough, also includes watermelons, cantaloupes, and pumpkins.
Here, you will find both zucchini and yellow summer squash growing tips. Summer Squash is comprised of 3 main types: yellow (straight or crooked neck), patty pan (looks like a white toy top or flying saucer), and the oblong green or gold zucchini.
Winter Squash has a hard rind allowing for winter storage and grows on vines. It is broken into small, intermediate, large, and jumbo categories, depending on its size and weight.
We are going to learn how to grow summer squash…zucchini and yellow squash. I don’t particularly like winter squash so, I won’t be covering it in these growing instructions.
NOTE: Zucchini roots, just like watermelon roots, are damaged easily and may not transplant well if they are removed from a plastic pot so, it is vital to use biodegradable containers and plant the seedling, container and all, into the ground.
After the last frost, I harden them off before transplanting them into my garden.
I Might Not “Give a Hill of Beans” About Some Things…
But, I do give hills to my zucchini plants.
I create hills, using a mixture of half potting soil, half dirt, and several tablespoons of an all-purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer. My hills are 6 inches high and several feet wide. Since my soil was previously prepared, based on a soil test, the 10-10-10 fertilizer is sufficient.
Each hill gets 4 or 5 biodegradable containers of seedlings transplanted into them. Water them well, keeping the soil moist but not soggy…we don’t want to introduces diseases or rot.
After the seedlings grow a bit bigger, I thin out a few but, I’ll leave several of the healthier plants.
When zucchini flowers appear, I will add several more tablespoons of 10-10-10 fertilizer around the base and water it into the soil.
These plants need room to grow! Conventional gardening wisdom says to keep zucchini plants about 3 feet apart…in the row…and, between rows. Since I have the luxury of a bit more space, I try to give them an extra foot or two when possible.
Would You Like to Know How to Grow Zucchini in Pots?
A few of my gardening acquaintances have opted to grow their squash in containers…usually on their patio. If you choose this route, use a big pot…at least 2 feet in diameter…3 feet is better. Then, follow the planting and fertilizer guidelines listed above.
Use Sharp Scissors, Knives, or Garden Shears
Look for young, developed zucchini about 6 inches long…give or take a few inches. Bigger fruit tends to be somewhat bitter.
A good pair of sharp scissors, knife, or garden shears like the Gonicc 8″ Pruning Shears that I use…work best to cleanly cut a zucchini off the plant without damaging it. Twisting or pulling off the squash is not a good idea.
With care, I will get about 10 pounds of zucchini per plant. Thus, with my 6 zucchini hills, I’ll get 60+ pounds!
Now, take these healthy little rascals to the kitchen for the next stage in their lives…eating…canning…dehydrating. Just don’t freeze them…they don’t freeze well.
Zucchini plants do not need much pruning. Cut off rotten squash, as well as dead, diseased leaves. I also end up cutting off leaves that stray too far from their area into the “safe space” of plants in neighboring rows. As I said earlier, these plants need some room to grow!
NOTE: Try not to prune the plants when they are wet. Diseases and parasites can be introduced if the plants are not dry.
Aphids hang out on the leaf underside, yellowing and curling the leaf. They will suck the fluid from the plant and leaving behind honey dew substance. Insecticidal soaps and a good spraying with a garden hose to displace them are best bets for control.
Squash Bugs suck sap from the leaf. Leaves will have speckles…then shrivel up and die. Choices for eradication are insecticides or picking them off by hand. I usually don’t see that many of them so, I grab, crunch, and toss them out of my garden!
Vine Borers lay eggs. The larvae eat into the lower stems and the plant will wither and ultimately die. There are insecticides available. If you detect these nasty little worms in time…you can cut a slit in the plant and remove them. But, if you do, pack some dirt around the cut to act as a Band-Aid. There is a good change that roots may form at the damaged location.
This white and chalky disease, starts on mature leaves and will, in time, spread to the rest of the plant.
Try to keep the leaves from getting wet by using soaker hoses, if possible.
This destroyer of veggies shows up as a dark or yellow soft, mushy end on the zucchini end. Too much heat, calcium deficiency, and lack of moisture contribute to this condition. If I see this, I will either throw some ground up eggshells or a few tablespoons of lime at the base of the plant…and, I’ll add soaker hoses.
This is a Test…
Question: What type of water produces healthy, nutritious zucchini?
Did you pass the test? What types of zucchini and yellow squash are in your backyard garden? Let me know in comments or email: email@example.com.
Jim, the Life Long Gardener