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Growing Zucchini

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on January 31, 2011

Country people joke that we keep our cars locked in the summer so someone won’t put a bag of zucchini in the front seat.  Zucchini are easy to grow and produce large amounts of vegetables, so you only need a few plants to feed your family.  Even then, you will have a lot of zucchini to use up.

Zucchini is officially a summer squash.  It will interbreed with pumpkins and cucumbers, as well as cantaloupe.  That means you have to separate it from these other plants to keep it from cross pollinating.

In addition to cross pollinating with other curcubits, zucchini plants spread out and take up a lot of room.  Fortunately, you only need one or two in order to have all the zucchini you want.  Zucchini is planted in mounds.  These mounds should be about three feet from each other or anything else.  You plant three or four seeds in each mound.

When the zucchini plants come up, you wait a couple of days and then pinch off all but one plant per mound.  Pinching off is just what it sounds like — you pinch the stem and sever it, so the plant comes off in your hand.  If you yank the little plants out of the ground, you disturb the root system of the plant you want to keep.  Pinching off does not disturb the plants around the one being pinched.

People often complain that their squash are producing flowers but no fruit.  Male flowers are produced before female flowers.  The male flowers provide the pollen for the female flowers, then die with no fruit.

You need to put a balanced fertilizer around the squash when they bloom.  Take care to follow the directions and put no more than they say, as too much fertilizer will cause the plants to grow to huge proportions without producing much fruit.  All the plant’s energy goes into producing the foliage and you get no squash.

Zucchini need an average amount of water for a vegetable.  Vegetables need water several times a week to produce their vegetable.  The soil needs to be moist but not squishy.

Last year there were many cases where the squash did not pollinate well.  This is due to a shortage of bees to pollinate the flowers.  In this case, the squash grows an inch or two, then gets rot on one end and dies.  The solution to this is to hand pollinate the squash.  I will not go into that here, but you can read how to hand pollinate squash here.

Zucchini goes into bread, casseroles, and can be eaten by itself.  It must be cooked to freeze or can.  It does not keep very long raw, however.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Eliza from Appalachian Feet February 1, 2011 at 4:05 pm

The latest issue of How to Find Great Plants is here and your sweet potatoes post is listed. Thanks so much for participating, I hope you will again next month. Here’s the issue:

http://www.appalachianfeet.com/2011/02/01/how-to-find-great-plants-issue-3/

I wish that zucchini was as easy in the southeast where I live as it is in the rest of the country. Squash vine borers take out my crop by August (although admittedly I have enough squash and zucchini by then that I’m not sure I mind it much).
Eliza recently posted..How to Find Great Plants- Issue 3My Profile

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Lisa June 28, 2011 at 10:25 am

Thank you, very helpful. I have one question I hope you can answer, Do I need to put stakes in for the plant to grow up, or do you just let them do there thing?

Thanks!

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Stephanie Suesan Smith June 28, 2011 at 11:10 am

You can trellis the zucchini to save space, but most people just let them spread out.

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