Zucchini is favored in the home garden for its abundant production and ease of growth. Two or three zucchini plants will provide enough zucchini for most families throughout the summer. A few extra plants and you will be supplying the neighbors with these popular vegetables. Zucchini are usually prepared fresh, and extras can be frozen or pickled for future enjoyment.
Planting and Growing
Plant zucchini about two weeks after all danger of frost has passed or start them inside about three to four weeks early. Prepare large mounds, approximately 2 feet in diameter and 3 feet apart for planting. Plant four to six zucchini plants per mound, and then thin the plants to two per mound once they are established.
Water the seeds after planting, then every two to three days until the plants appear. Once germinated, water the mounds weekly. Water the soil beneath the plant, and avoid wetting the plant. Zucchini plants grow quickly, you will be harvesting about 45 to 55 days after planting.
Harvest the zucchini when small and tender, at about 6 to 6 inches long. Larger zucchini are tough and seedy. Zucchini grow fast, so once harvesting begins, you should check your plants daily. Allowing the zucchini to stay on the vine until larger will discourage new fruit.
The main pest problems on zucchini are cucumber beetles and vine borers. Both of these pests can kill the plant if not controlled with insecticide. Cucumber beetles are small, striped or spotted beetles that eat the leaves of the plant and spread disease. Vine borers lay their eggs at the base of the plant. Mounding soil around the base can discourage these pests. The larvae bore into the vine at the base of the plant and eat the center out of the stems.
Zucchini are susceptible to a variety of diseases. The most common problems are caused by powdery mildew and bacterial wilt. Both are encouraged by hot, humid weather. Treat the plant with fungicide as soon as either of these diseases is suspected. These diseases will live in the soil and recur in subsequent years unless treated.