Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) is an Italian marrow squash with a variety of cultivars growing in both cylindrical and round shapes. It is a popular summer squash grown throughout Florida in vegetable gardens. Considered a warm-season vegetable, zucchini will not tolerate frosts or freezes. In addition, growing zucchini during Florida's intensely heated summers produce poor yields. Its fruit vary in color from dark to light green with some fruits having stripes. Burpee hybrid, blackini, black zucchini, Mexican globe and blackjack are some of the varieties suggested for growth in Florida by the University of Florida.
Select an appropriate date for planting zucchini, based on where you live in Florida. The University of Florida suggest the following planting times: North Florida, March though April and August through September; Central Florida, February through March and August through September; and South Florida, January through March and September through October.
Find an area in your landscape with good drainage that's in full sun. Zucchini will not tolerate growing in saturated conditions and sun is required for best growth and fruit production.
Remove grasses and weeds from the site and keep the area weed-free while the zucchini is growing there. Unwanted vegetation robs the plants of much-needed moisture and nutrients and competes with young plant's growth.
Work compost or manure into the planting site two weeks before planting. Work the material into the soil to a depth of 3 to 4 inches. Zucchini will benefit from the addition of organic material as Florida's soil is sandy, holding few nutrients.
Apply an application of 6-6-6 or 10-10-10 granular fertilizer to the garden site two weeks before planting at a rate of 5 oz. for every 10-foot row. Work the fertilizer into the soil to a depth of 1 to 2 inches. Water the area.
Create rows that are 36 to 48 inches wide or create hills approximately 1-foot in diameter, for the zucchini to be planted in. Space the hills 24 inches apart.
Plant the zucchini transplants or sow the seeds directly into the garden soil. Plant transplants at the same depth they were growing in their containers. Space the seeds and transplants 24 inches apart for adequate room for growth.
Water the garden thoroughly, allowing the water to reach to the transplant's roots or cover the seeds. Depending on your local Florida weather conditions, water daily to keep the soil moist. Consider applying a layer of straw as mulch to help the soil retain moisture.
Fertilize the zucchini plants with a 6-6-6- or 10-10-10 fertilizer one month after planting. Water the fertilizer in well and avoid having it touch the plants.
Harvest zucchini in approximately 40 to 50 days after planting. Zucchini are ready when they are approximately 6 to 8 inches long. Harvesting will encourage the plants to develop more fruits.
Use an insecticide designed for use on zucchini if squash borers and bugs, aphids or leafminers become a problem.