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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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