Growing and savoring fresh vegetables at home has become a widespread practice in current days. When it comes to growing plants at home, people prefer plants that are easy to grow and could give a high yield. Zucchini is one of those dependable plants to grow in house gardens.
It does not require a lot of care and gives an abundant yield. However, it is not as easy as it sounds. There are still some factors you need to keep in mind for the proper growth of plants.
Here is a complete guide to growing zucchinis and getting the best yield.
How To Sow Zucchini Seeds
Following are some guidelines on how to sow zucchini seeds.
When Should the Seeds Be Planted?
The best time to plant zucchini seeds is after the frost. When you plant them in frost, you might end up getting nothing at the end because frost kills the plants. Zucchinis are especially vulnerable to it. They require warm weather and full sun to flourish and produce fruits.
The right temperature to sow seeds for zucchini is 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperature below it would be harmful to the seeds. If you really have to sow them a bit early, make special arrangements like using rowing covers or frost cloth.
Orientation of Zucchini Seeds
Zucchini seeds do not need to have a specific orientation when sowing. Using gravity, zucchini seeds adjust. There is a process called geotropism, by which the roots of the plant catch ground themselves and the rest of the part grows in an outward direction.
On the seeds, the position of the radicle (embryonic root) varies so the root points downwards. In the case of zucchini, the tip (from where the radicle emerges) must face downwards. However, if you mistakenly put it in an upward direction, the root will still be able to catch ground through the process of germination.
So direction or adjustment of the seed position is not necessarily important.
What Should the Depth of Seeds Be?
Choose moist soil with manure and compost to plant the seeds in. Sow the seeds an inch deep and prefer 4 to 5 seeds per hill.
You can sow seeds in a row by adding two to three seeds per hole maintaining a distance of 36 inches. The depth should be half an inch, 3 to 4 inches apart in rows that are at a distance of 2 to 3 feet.
As they grow, thin them out so that they are six to eight inches apart when they get to the length of four to five inches. If you choose to plant seeds in a container, they must have a twenty-inch diameter.
Should the seeds be sown in Hills or Rows?
You can choose either way because both work in the case of growing zucchinis. However, hill methods are more advantageous. As zucchini demands hot soil, hills of soil take less time to warm and help the plants grow properly. Hills provide better drainage and increased pollination as opposed to rows.
Additionally, sowing 2-3 varieties helps them pollinate in a better way. Compost is also good for zucchini plants.
How to Plant Germinated Seeds?
To sow germinated seeds, face the roots downwards and spread soil over the seeds lightly. Avoid packing the soil on the seed. Once you see them sprouting, expose them to light for sixteen hours a day.
Should Seeds Be Soaked Before Planting?
It is not mandatory to soak seeds before sowing. However, if you want them to germinate them quickly, it would be advantageous to soak them for 24 hours.
Avoid sowing more than 3 seeds in a hole or container. Otherwise, there might be an interruption in the germination of other seeds.
Is Direct Sowing Good?
Sowing seeds directly into the soil is an effortless process. However, it might be a little tricky for beginners to control external factors like weather and insects.
How to Water Zucchini Plants
Like every plant needs a regular water supply, Zucchini is also required to be watered. However, watering zucchini plants needs extra care. Here is how one should water it:
How often should you water zucchini plants?
Zucchini needs to remain in moist soil. You need to keep checking that the soil doesn’t go dry. It is necessary to do in-depth watering of zucchini plants. Avoid providing them more than an inch of water at a time. To figure out if the plant needs water or not, dig the surrounding soil.
If the soil is damp, then you do not need to water them. If the temperature is not too hot once a week will work for them. However, if the sun is full, you might have to water them 2-3 times a week.
Can you overwater zucchini plants?
Excess of everything is bad. Instead of being beneficial, overwatering could prove to be harmful to plants, especially for zucchinis. When you provide excessive water to zucchinis, their roots become diminutive which leads them to be incapable of supporting the plant.
Should you water zucchini leaves?
No! Only zucchini roots need water. When you water zucchini leaves they might get fungus or other such diseases. So you must take extra care while watering the plant.
Fertilizing Growing Plants
Fertilizing plants is as important as any other factor to grow plants. Plants might grow well if you fertilize them organically by using natural elements like bone meal or cottonseed. Zucchini plants will give you a better yield when you fertilize them more often.
The best time to fertilize its plants is when the seedlings start appearing. Next fertilization should occur when the plants start bearing flowers and fruit. It is recommended to employ water-soluble fertilizers. Fertilizer should be mixed properly in the water.
To plant zucchini in an organic way, prepare the soil with manure or compost before sowing the seeds and use fertilizer after the plant starts bearing flowers and fruit. However, note that if the plants are not planted well, then fertilizers will not help.
Fertilizer only helps a plant grow well; it cannot cure a diseased plant. You can buy different fertilizers for inorganic fertilization. Most gardeners prefer using a fertilizer with twice as much nitrogen as potassium.
A 10-10-10 fertilizer works best for zucchinis. If you are employing a granular fertilizer, do not let grains touch the plant leaves. Otherwise, they may burn.
Supporting Growing Zucchini Plants
Generally, zucchini plants are grown in bush form. However, there are varieties that grow on climbers. In that case, the fruit might need support to stay on the plant because of its tender stem. You can place a trellis or stake near the stem and support the plant.
A tie or string might also help in case you do not have a trellis. You can tie the main stem to another firm support near the plant. You will have to keep an eye on the support because the plant might need extra support the bigger it gets.
Twine, horticultural tape, or old bags might also prove to be a great support for such plants.
Frost is a great danger for any type of plant. Zucchini plants need special care in cold weather.
As the goal is to store the required heat for the plants, you can use old newspapers, towels, old sheets, blankets, etc. You can use these options when the frost is not severe.
In case of high frost, you will need to make special arrangements. For instance, row covers or frost cloth can help save your plants.
Do not use plastic at all, because it makes a lot of moisture under the cover which causes zucchini leaves to die. Remove the covers in the morning, so that covers do not trap heat from the sun.
Pruning of Zucchini Plants
Proper care is the key to making a plant grow better. Pruning helps you to maintain the plant and prevent your plant from being overcrowded. Bigger leaves could also interrupt the growth of other plants nearby, so it is necessary to do timely pruning.
The best time to do zucchini plant pruning is when the plant starts bearing fruit. When you see four to five fruits on the bush or vine, you can start cutting the leaves. Try to cut only bigger leaves for better sun exposure. Cutting off dead and rotted leaves is also necessary.
Cutting at the stem is not a good idea because makes the plant vulnerable to diseases.
Zucchini grows very well with many plants. Here is a list of vegetables that you could grow with zucchini and get amazing results.
Growing beans in the company of zucchini plants can provide many benefits to the zucchini plant. Bean plants maintain the nitrogen level of the soil to balance pH levels.
Borage helps in a better pollination process as it attracts pollinators such as bumblebees and beetles. They are scary for other harmful insects.
Dill also helps in the process of pollination by holding off damaging insects and attracting pollinators.
Aphids can be very damaging to zucchini plants. Strong sulfur compounds in garlic repel aphids and will save your plants from dying.
Radish also wards off dangerous pests like cucumber beetles, bugs, and aphids.
Mints can save your plants from grazing animals like deer, who cannot bear the minty smells.
Rosemary fends off bugs and many other worms with its strong fragrance.
Peas are also a great company for zucchini plants. They maintain the pH level of the soil.
Nasturtiums are trap plants. Many harmful bugs prefer staying away from them, which proves to be very beneficial for zucchini plants.
How/When to Harvest the Fruit
It is not always easy to know when to harvest your fruit, because zucchini grows so fast. However, you should pluck them when they reach the length of a cucumber. In general, you know they are ready to pick when they become six to eight inches long.
You might leave them to grow to one ft. but the younger plants taste better. You can get an estimate by their firmness and color. When they become dark green, it means they are ready to be harvested.
So as not to damage the fruit, you should use a pruning instrument, a cutter, or scissors to separate it from the plants. You can just twirl or spin the stem and pick the fruit, but it does not always work because if the stem is harder, you might destroy the whole bush.
In the case of male plants, separate the plant at a distance of one inch from the flowers so that you do not end up harming the flower.
You might wonder if they can pluck zucchini flowers. The answer is that to prevent extra yield of zucchinis, you can pick male flowers if they grow in excess. It will also make the process of pollination quite convenient.
Storing your Fruit
You cannot store zucchinis for too long because they will become mushy and rotten. If you really need to store them, you should put them in the open air without washing them first.
The best way to store them is to put them in plastic bags with holes in them. If you fully pack the fruit, it will rot in no time; air passage is necessary.
If you leave them on the counter, they could survive for 3-4 days, while if you want to store them for a longer time, it is best to refrigerate them.
You can also freeze them in your desired form, i.e. shredded, sliced, grated, etc. To get better results, you can shred the zucchini and wring the water off.
Saving the Seeds for Future Planting
You might want to store seeds to make another zucchini garden. Always choose the fully grown fruit and then scoop out the seeds.
Make sure to clear zucchini flesh as much as possible before washing the seeds. Here are a few instructions on how to store seeds for the next time you want to plant them.
Choose the Right Seed Variety
To store zucchini seeds it is important to get seeds from non-hybrid varieties. Only the non-hybrid variety gives the best results.
Where to Store Them
To store the seeds you will have to let the fruit harden in the garden. After that pick up the fruit and get the seeds. Let the seeds become dry and then pack them in paper bags or glass jars.
How Long Can You Store Seeds For?
You can store zucchini seeds for as long as you want. If you have chosen the right place (dry and at room temperature) then they can last for years.
Problems or Diseases Related to Zucchini Plants
Here is a list of diseases or problems related to zucchinis:
There are many bacterial diseases that affect zucchini plants and bacterial wilt is one of them. This type of disease causes plant leaves to become withered or sagged. It spreads quickly and can eat up the whole plant in a limited time.
All you can do to save your other plants from this disease is to discard the entire affected plant.
Improper Variety Selection
When you select between different zucchini seeds, there are many factors that you must keep in mind. One of the things to keep in mind is that the seeds must not be afflicted with any disease. It might affect other plants as well.
So, it is wise to choose varieties that are resistant to diseases. Tigress and Yellowfin are two of the best varieties among zucchinis.
Squash Vine Borers
Squash vine borders are moths with the red dotted abdomen and black wings that can prove deathly for zucchini plants. They are active from mid-June through July.
They are so dangerous for zucchinis that entire crops may be ruined in a year in case of a severe attack. They are hard to be observed because they are very fast. Their larvae make holes in plant leaves and cause their death. You can use aluminum foil to cover their stems.
Pollination is one of the most important preliminary factors in zucchini production. Different insect pollinators like honeybees and beetles take pollen grains from the male flowers and carry them to female flowers. Frequent visits of pollinators are very important for zucchinis to grow properly.
When pollination does not occur properly, many plants turn yellow and fall from their stem. To increase the process of pollination, you should grow different flowers and other plants which attract pollinators. The more bees visit, the higher will be the process of pollination which will finally lead to a great yield.
Powdery mildew is also a common disease among zucchini plants. It is a type of fungus that grows on the leaves of this plant. You can easily observe it on the surface of the leaf. It looks like a white powder that is seen on stems or leaves.
They affect plants in hot and dry climates so keeping them moist is very important. They might also grow in an overly wet environment. For that case, take extra care while watering plants.
Water should not touch plant leaves, otherwise, it might also cause powdery mildew. If you do not take immediate action for powdery mildew, it keeps spreading on the plant and you will end up with ruined crops.
Alternaria Leaf Blight
Alternia Lead Blight is a fungal disease among zucchini plants. When plants encounter excessive watering, then they might get this disease.
This fungus causes holes in the plant leaves and causes them to fold from the edges. In the end, the fungus could get to the fruit and lead the crop to die.
This disease affects the plant in midsummer. Heavy rains could also lead to Alternaria Leaf Blight. You should water the plants at their base instead of showering water on them from a hose. To save them from excessive rain, you should use row covers.
Bacterial Leaf Spot
Bacterial leaf spot is caused by bacteria. The symptoms this disease leaves on plants are holes with yellow edges. It also grows on the surface of leaves and in the end might cause the death of the fruit. They attack plants at elevated temperatures.
Sometimes seeds carry this bacterial disease and when you sow them with other plants, they might also get it. There are tips that you can use to prevent this disease: Buy seeds from certified companies, use fungicides, or cut out the affected leaves.
Blossom End Rot
Blossom End Rot is also a common disease among zucchini plants. It is caused by a calcium deficiency in the fruit. This deficiency is transferred to plants by the soil if the soil does not have enough calcium, it will also cause calcium deficiency in the fruits.
In this disease, the tip of the fruit starts getting soft and black. In order to save zucchini from blossom end rot, check to see if the soil has enough nutrients like calcium. If not, you can add calcium to the soil before sowing the seeds.
These guidelines will help you grow zucchinis in the easiest way possible. All you have to do is to find the right seed variety, prepare the soil, know how to sow the seeds, and properly harvest your seeds.
Keep checking your plants to know if you need to update anything in the garden.
Be sure to take precautions to save your plants from any disease or pest attacks because once the zucchini plants get a disease you will most likely have to discard the plant.
Be innovative and stay updated so you can take immediate action in time in case any damage happens to your plants. Now enjoy your happy and healthy zucchini harvest!