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Growing Zucchini

Zucchini and squash are prolific stunners and the centerpieces of any vegetable garden. One of the most enjoyable things about planting squash and zucchini, other than the fact that they are huge producers of fruit, is that there are so many varieties to choose from. They come in all shapes, sizes, flavors, and even colorful patterns, which add a fun diversity to the vegetable garden. Squash and zucchini are easy to grow, add tremendous yields, and come in a wide array of both space-saving and vining varieties. Check out these tips for getting the best out of growing zucchini and squash.

Companion Plants

Here is a short list of great Zucchini companion plants:

  • Borage is an herb that works double duty as zucchini companion plants in the garden. Not only does borage repel voracious insects, but it also attracts beneficial bugs and honeybees to pollinate your zucchini flowers.
  • Bush beans work well to repel garden beetles and other pests that bore into zucchini plants and vines. Beans also release beneficial nitrogen back into the soil as they grow, which feeds nearby zucchini and boosts their fruit production.
  • Radishes make a great companion to zucchini because they deter squash vine borers and beetles from making their way into the zucchini patch. These destructive pests will quickly cause demise in your crop if not kept at bay.
  • Garlic dissuades damaging aphids from the garden area, which have been known to wreak havoc on zucchini and their leaves.

If you’d like to learn about more companion plants and an explanation as to why, read here.

bed with blooming with yellow flowers zucchini

Soil Composition and pH

Amend your garden soil with rich organic matter and well-decomposed compost. Zucchini and squash thrive best nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. These prolific plants enjoy a soil with an optimal pH range of about 6.5 to 7.

Light Requirements

Zucchini and squash thrive in gardens that receive full sun. Find a sunny location in your yard that will receive a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight for optimal growth.

Zucchini growing in a tin pot.

Where to Plant

Most varieties of zucchini and squash can be grown just about anywhere if given the right conditions and requirements. You can find both space-saving bush varieties and vigorous climbers. If you have a lot of space in your garden, you can allow your zucchini to spread freely. Other options can be to incorporate vertical gardening into your garden bed and add a well-supported trellis or arch for climbing vines to ascend.

Container

Zucchini and squash can be grown effectively in containers.  Ensure that you have a nice large pot or growing container full of enriching potting mix and water regularly.  You can provide a trellis, plant a bush variety or allow the plants to overflow out of the container if you have space for them to spread.

Raised Bed

Growing zucchini and squash in a raised bed takes a lot of the guesswork out of providing a nutrient-rich and well-draining soil for your plants. With a raised garden bed, you can best control the soil quality of your garden, and your plants and seeds will stay warmer earlier in the season than if they are planted in the ground.

Backyard Garden

Both zucchini and squash can be quickly and easily grown in a backyard garden as long as the soil is well tilled and amended with organic material and well-decomposed compost. Mulching can help with moisture retention, regulate soil temperature, reduce soil erosion, and prevent weeds in the backyard garden.

All Natural Raised Bed & Potting Mix

Kellogg Garden Organics

All Natural Raised Bed & Potting Mix

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Temperature

Zucchini and squash thrive best in warm temperatures, ideally in the mid-70s or higher. Soil temperature needs to be warmed to at least 60-degrees Fahrenheit before seeds are sown, or the seeds will not be able to get a good start at germination. The same temperature requirements apply if you are planting squash and zucchini plants in your garden. If the temperatures are too low, the plants have a potential for stunted growth.

Starting from Seed vs. Buying Plants

Squash and zucchini roots do not prefer to be transplanted, so it is best to sow seeds directly into the garden bed or container. Plant seeds in mid-spring after the soil warms up, approximately two weeks after the possibility of frost. If you do want to get a head start on your plantings, consider planting your seeds indoors in biodegradable pots, 3-4 weeks before the last frost. The use of biodegradable pots allows you to plant the whole pot directly into the soil so that the roots can remain intact.

Zucchini in a wooden crate.

Recommended Varieties

Zucchini and squash come in a lot of different varieties that make planting exciting, from vibrant colors and patterns to a vast array of unique shapes and sizes. You can also choose between space-saving bush varieties and meandering vines. Try some of these easy-to-grow and diverse types in your garden this season.

‘Fordhook Zucchini’

‘Summer Squash-Golden Zebra Hybrid’

‘Summer Squash-Gourmet Gold’

‘Scalloped Patty-Pan Squash’

‘Winter Squash-Spaghetti’

‘Summer Squash-Golden Goose Hybrid’

‘Winter Squash-Delicata’

‘Winter Squash-Butternut’

Spacing

Plant your zucchini and squash plants in hills 2 -4 feet apart. Do not overplant. Zucchini plants provide a bountiful harvest, and proper spacing promotes air circulation. Such spacing can provide adequate air circulation and discourages disease.

Nutrient Requirements

While both zucchini and squash draw their nutrients from the soil through the process of photosynthesis, they can benefit from fertilization approximately six weeks after the seeds are planted. Amend the soil around your zucchini and squash plants with well-decomposed compost or use a fertilizer that is high in phosphorous and calcium, which will best promote fruit production and help ward off disease like blossom rot.

Watering

Zucchini and squash should receive 1 inch of water per week. It is vital to supply plants with sufficient hydration, especially during their budding and fruiting phases. You can provide additional water retention in your garden by adding 2-3 inches of organic mulch around the base of established plants.

Pests and Disease

As easy as zucchini and squash is to grow, you may have to battle some pests and diseases along the way. You can ward off disease and control pests organically by ensuring that your soil is rich in organic material, making sure your plants have good air circulation, proper watering, and the implementation of companion planting. With all pests and disease, it is crucial to keep a watchful eye on your plants and take action if you see any signs of damage.

Squash Vine Borers and Cucumber Beetles

Squash Vine Borers and Cucumber Beetles are problematic nemeses of squash and zucchini plants. Keep a close eye for visible bugs and damage to vines. If they get the chance to burrow into your vines, it can lead to a complete demise of your plants.

Blossom Rot and Powdery Mildew

Blossom rot can be prevented by ensuring that the soil is calcium-rich. You can test your soil and amend it accordingly. Powdery mildew can spread quickly and decimate the garden if not caught and treated early. It can usually be prevented through proper spacing, which encourages sufficient airflow and by watering early morning, which prevents leaves from staying saturated for extended periods.

Overall Care

It is important to note that zucchini and squash require pollination to produce a robust yield. Zucchini and squash plants grow both female and male flowers, and they both need to be visited regularly by pollinators like bees and other beneficial insects. It is a great idea to plant some flowering annuals and herbs nearby to attract such pollinators to your vegetable garden.

Zucchini and squash are abundant producers of fruits, and they grow quickly. Check your garden daily once the plants start offering fruit to keep up with your fast-growing crop. Harvest young fruits that are at least 4-6 inches long for the best flavor and most tender veggies. Implementing these tips should give you an abundance that you can use, can, store, and even share with friends!


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