Zucchini is one of the most popular and easy to grow of all the summer vegetables. It came from Central America by way of Italy, where it was developed for the consumer market in the late 19th century. It's nutritious, with beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, potassium and iron, all wrapped up in a low-calorie vegetable. It lends itself to countless dishes, from spaghetti sauce to ratatouille to zucchini bread. And it's so easy to grow that many gardeners find they have a huge surplus of this squash in its productive summer season.
Start with seeds instead of starter plants, because zucchini does not transplant well. Choose one of the many varieties of zucchini from a seed catalog or online (see Resources).
Prepare your planting area in spring by digging one or two shovelfuls of compost into an area about 3 feet round. Then shovel out 4 to 6 inches of soil all around a central circle and dump the soil onto the top of the circle to form a mound.
Rake the top of the central mound flat, leaving a "moat" around it. This helps to get the most water to your plants when you irrigate them.
Plant your zucchini seeds 1 inch deep and about 3 or 4 inches apart around the outside edge of the central mound.
Thin out the weaker seedlings when they are several inches tall, leaving three to four evenly spaced plants in your mound.