Cucumbers and zucchini are easily mistaken for each other. Both have dark-green skin, pale seedy flesh and long, cylindrical shape. Cucumber skin has a waxy feel and zucchini is rough and dry to the touch. Zucchini flowers are edible, while cucumber flowers are not. Zucchini and cucumber plants both benefit from the regular addition of homemade fertilizer during their summer growing season.
Compost vs. Fertilizer
Homemade backyard compost is used as a soil additive, while fertilizer is used as a topical application to boost plant growth. Compost may also be used as a topically applied fertilizer or made into compost tea fertilizer. Compost contains the 17 nutrients zucchini and cucumber plants need to grow and thrive. One shovelful of compost incorporated into each square foot of soil prior to planting improves its nutrient content.
Organic gardener and author Steve Solomon, writing in Mother Earth News, recommends a homemade fertilizer mixture of seed meal, lime, bone meal and kelp meal. All materials are derived from nature and most are available at garden centers. Seed meal is purchased online or from a farm feed store. Homemade fertilizer will not burn tender zucchini or cucumber plants. Mix the ingredients in a large bucket or container.
Mix the following ingredients by volume rather than weight, as recommended by Solomon. Use 4 parts seed meal, Â¼ part agricultural lime, Â¼ part gypsum (or double the lime) and Â½ part dolomitic lime. For best results, add 1 part bone meal, rock phosphate or bat guano, and Â½ to 1 part kelp meal. Chemical-free chopped grass clippings may be substituted for seed meal. Save the mixture in a closed container for use throughout the growing season.
When To Apply
Apply 1 cup of homemade fertilizer as a side dressing to cucumber plants one week after blossoming begins. Fertilize again in three weeks. Do not continue to fertilize, as this encourages vine growth at the expense of fruit development. Zucchini plants thrive when fertilized mid-season. Spread 1 cup of fertilizer mixture around the plant and irrigate.
- Mother Earth News; A Better Way to Fertilize: Homemade Organic Fertilizer; Steve Soloman, June/July 2006
- University of Minnesota Extension; Growing zucchini & Summer Squash in Minnesota Home Gardens; Fritz, et al.; 2009
- Ohio State University Extension; Growing Cucumbers in the Home Garden; Pamela J. Bennett