Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) is a summer squash that belongs to the same family of plants as cucumbers, melons, pumpkins and gourds. Zucchini plants generally produce elongated, dark green fruits, sometimes with stripes or speckles. Newer varieties also come in colors that range from light yellow to almost black. Although other types of squash can be grown in cool weather, zucchini is a warm-season variety that must be grown in the spring after the danger of frost has passed.
Prepare the planting area. As soon as the ground can be worked in early spring, remove rocks, debris and unwanted vegetation from the planting area with a rake or shovel.
To start plants from seed, sow seed directly into the ground once the soil temperature has warmed to 60 degrees F. Seeds planted in cool soil, indoors or outdoors, will not germinate properly. Plant seeds 1 inch deep and cover them with topsoil. Space your plantings at least 1 1/2 feet apart.
To start zucchini from transplants, dig a hole twice as large as the root ball, then cover it with topsoil to the original planting depth. Young zucchini transplants can be purchased at local nurseries or home improvement centers.
Mulch the zucchini beds. Applying organic mulch will help retain moisture and protect young seedlings or transplants from the cold nights of early spring.
Water the seeds or transplants liberally, soaking the area. Newly planted zucchini requires regular watering, at least 1 inch of rain or irrigation water per week, to grow well.