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A simple guide to growing and harvesting your own zucchini

From stir-fries to bread, zucchini is a versatile and delicious vegetable. It’s easy to grow, once you know how, so it’s a good choice for beginners. First, you have to know how to grow them, though. When do you plant the seeds or starters, and what conditions do zucchinis prefer? How long does it take for them to grow, and what is the best way to harvest them? If you want to add zucchinis to your garden and your meals, then you’re in the right place. We have the answers to all your zucchini-related questions here in this handy guide.

Varieties of zucchini to try

Black Beauty zucchini is a favorite of many; it’s hard to find a list of popular zucchini varieties that doesn’t include it. It features a dark green peel and white center, with a taste that pairs well with a wide range of dishes. Black Beauty is also a low-maintenance heritage variety, with a quick grow time and large yield.

Round zucchini is a great option for gardeners who want to grow unusual, show-stopping vegetables. Although the flavor is the same as a typical zucchini, these zucchinis are almost perfectly spherical. They can be fun to stuff or use as small bowls, or you can hollow them out to make tiny jack-o-lanterns!

If you aren’t sure about green zucchini, then why not try a yellow one? Gourmet Gold is a brilliant shade of yellow that can add some extra color to any dish. There’s no difference in flavor, so feel free to add this stunning yellow zucchini to anything you would normally add zucchini to.

For those of you who think zucchini is just a bit too bland, then you might enjoy a Gadzukes zucchini. This variety is easy to grow and matures quickly, plus the ridges it has create an interesting star-like pattern when sliced. Additionally, Gadzukes zucchini is sweeter and a little crunchier than a typical zucchini!

Gourmet Gold zucchinis growing on the plant

Planting zucchini

Zucchini have little to no tolerance for the cold. Spring and summer are typically the right time to plant zucchinis, but in some hotter regions, you may be able to grow them year-round. For the best results, you need nightly lows that are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and soil temperatures at or above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. In colder regions, you can start seeds indoors or get seedlings from a local nursery or garden center.

Choose a section of your garden that receives full sun and is rich with nutrients and organic matter. Zucchini plants typically grow quickly and produce a lot of zucchinis, which means they need to absorb plenty of sun, water, and nutrients to develop properly. They prefer soil that is slightly acidic but will grow in neutral soil just fine.

Plant the seeds roughly half an inch deep. You can either space them 2 feet apart or space them 3 to 4 inches apart and thin them after they sprout. If you’re growing more than one row of zucchinis, make sure the rows are spaced 3 feet apart.

Rows of young zucchini plants

Caring for zucchini

If the zucchini variety you’re growing is a vining zucchini, then you’ll need to place a trellis or other climbing structure for your zucchinis to grow on. However, many zucchini varieties are bush types, meaning the stems grow up in small clumps, almost like a bush. Bush varieties don’t need a trellis. The four varieties listed above are all bush-type varieties.

Water is as important for proper growth as sun and nutrients. Zucchini plants need 1 to 2 inches of water per week, and they tend to do best in soil that’s consistently moist but not soaking wet. A drip irrigation line is a great choice for zucchini plants, but a layer of mulch can also help the soil retain moisture.

Fertilizer can be helpful for zucchini plants, but you should be careful not to over-fertilize them. Over-fertilization can lead to more leaves and fewer zucchinis. A small amount of fertilizer when you plant them and when they begin to flower is typically enough.

A striped zucchini growing on the vine

Harvesting zucchini

Young zucchinis, typically in the range of 3 to 10 inches long (depending on the variety), are tender and can be eaten whole. As they age, zucchinis toughen and the peels thicken. They can still be eaten, but are typically better suited for dishes with longer cook times or for baking. However, mature zucchinis store much longer than young ones, thanks to their thick peels. This means that your exact harvest time can vary depending on how you want to use your zucchinis.

Most zucchini varieties are ready for harvest in between 45 and 60 days, with each zucchini taking, on average, a week to form. To harvest them, simply cut the zucchini off of the vine or stem, leaving about an inch of stem attached to the zucchini. Harvesting as they ripen will encourage more zucchini to form. The average zucchini plant can produce between 3 and 9 pounds of zucchini. That’s a lot of zucchini!

Zucchini is an ideal vegetable in many ways. They’re easy to grow, and they grow quickly. A single plant can produce enough zucchinis for a small family, and the zucchinis themselves are extremely versatile. Whether or not it’s the ideal vegetable for you, hopefully, this guide has made your zucchini growing journey just a bit easier.

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