Growing Zucchini:
How to Grow Zucchini Organically

It’s easy to overdo it when growing zucchini… plant too many seeds and you’ll have more than you know what to do with! Very easy to grow, the zucchini varieties of summer squash may be started from seed or purchased as young plants and may planted in containers or directly sown in the garden.

It’s a fast grower and needs fertile soil, plenty of sunshine and a deep watering every few days.

Growing Zucchini: Plant Snapshot (Cucurbita pepo)

Growing Zucchini
  • Family: Summer squash (Cucurbita pepo)
  • Annual or Perennial? Annual Ready to harvest 55-65 days after planting
  • Recommended varieties: Raven, Rond de Nice, Partenon, Greyzini
  • Cold tolerance: Warm Season – Will not survive frost and their seeds will not germinate in cold soil. Plant them at about the average date of the last 32 degree F (0 degree C) temperature in spring
  • Required Sun: Full sun (at least 6 hours each day)
  • When planning vegetable crop rotation, group with crops from this family: Cucurbits, courgettes, marrows
  • Companion plants (see Companion Planting Charts for more info):
    • Companions: Corn, Eggplant, Marigold, Nasturtium, Onion family, Radish
    • Avoid: Potato
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Growing Zucchini: Planting the Seed

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Growing zucchini is perfect for those new to gardening. Seeds can either be sown directly into your garden (especially if you live in a warmer climate) or can be planted indoors in peat pots or other containers that can go straight into the ground about a month before freezing temperatures are expected to end.

Regardless of whether their starteed indoors or out, zucchini seeds need warm soil to germinate, so make sure that the soil temperature is warm enough - ideally 70 degrees F (21 C) or warmer.

You should plant zucchini seedlings or seeds in rows or hills at a depth of about one inch (2.54 cm). In rows, sow seeds at least six inches apart; in hills, sow two or three seeds or seedlings per hilll and leave between a foot and a foot and a half (30.5 to 45.8 cm) between the hills.

Zucchini may also be planted twice during the growing season, once for an early summer harvest and again for a late summer or early fall harvest.

Snapshot: Planting Zucchini

  • Planting depth: about 1 inch (2.54 cm)
  • Spacing in rows: 6 inches (15.2 cm) minimum (rows); 12 to 18 inches (30.5 to 45.8 cm) (hills)
  • Germination soil temperature: 70 to 95 degrees F (21.1 to 35 degrees C)
  • Days to germination: 6 to 15 days
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Growing Zucchini: From Germination to Pre-Harvest

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Water zucchini plants by soaking the soil underneath and let the top of the soil dry out a bit between watering. While fertilizing zucchini plants monthly with an organic garden fertilizer probably won’t hurt, if you have very fertile soil it probably won’t be necessary.

Zucchini will usually put out about fifteen leaves or so before the yellow blooms appear. Each female bloom is a potential zucchini (although if no male flowers have bloomed yet to pollinate them, they may wither and fall off the plant until the male blooms appear).

Some varieties of zucchini can be trained to grow up a garden trellis which is useful for those with limited garden space.

Snapshot: Growing Zucchini

  • Preferred soil pH (see soil pH tester for more information): 6.0 to 7.5
  • Growing soil temperature: 70 to 80 degrees F (21.1 to 26.6 degrees C
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Growing Zucchini: Harvesting Time

Zucchini grow quickly, and harvesting the squash while it is still small and tender will help to keep the plants producing. Choosing zucchini that are six to eight inches (15 to 20 cm) long is common, but you may find that they taste better when they're smaller (4 to 5 inches/10 to 12.5 cm). Either way, your plant should continue producing great-tasting zucchini for at least a month as long as you keep picking them.

Though it is tempting to pull off each squash by hand, doing so can damage the plant and reduce production later in the growing season. Instead, use a sharp knife to cut each zucchini from the plant.

Snapshot: Harvesting Zucchini

  • Time to harvest: About 35 to 55 days after planting
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Storing Zucchini and Freezing Zucchini

Zucchini will keep in the refrigerator anywhere from four days to one week. All summer squash – including zucchini - is very perishable, so use a perforated plastic bag for optimum storage.

To freeze this member of the squash family, select firm zucchini with no bad spots. You may peel zucchini, however the skin is popularly left on as it helps to hold the tender flesh in place. Split squash down the middle and cut into pieces, then cook in boiling salted water until tender. Place in freezer bags or containers, and freeze for up to three months.

Snapshot: Storing Zucchini & Freezing Zucchini

  • Storage temperature: 45 to 50 degrees F (7.2 to 10 degrees C)
  • Humidity: 80 to 90% relative humidity
  • Storage life (unfrozen in above conditions): 1 week
  • Storage life (frozen): 3 months
  • Seed longevity: About 4 years
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Growing Zucchini: Pests & Diseases

The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Zucchini. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.

Pests

  • Aphids
  • Cucumber beetles
  • Cut worms
  • Spider mites
  • Squash bugs
  • Squash vine borers
  • Whiteflies

Diseases

  • Bacterial wilt
  • Botrytis blight
  • Downy mildew
  • Powdery mildew
  • Yellow mosaic
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YOUR Experience & Advice About Growing Zucchini

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