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Zucchini | Northern Gardener

Zucchini (Costata Romanesco)

Zucchini are annual plants that are members of the Pumpkin and Squash family which also includes Summer Squash, Winter Squash, Marrows and the lesser known ""Potiron"".

They have a mild flavour when eaten on their own, and they readily absorb the flavours of whatever they are cooked with. (They work very well in pasta sauces as well as omlettes)

They are very easy to grow even in cool climates with short summers. They are truly the gift that keeps on giving. A singel plant can easily produce 10 Zuccini in a season.

1: Physical Features
Physical Features: Vining
Height: 45 - 60cm (18 - 24")
Spread: Indeterminate.
Varieties: Black Beauty, Radiant.
2: General Info
Usage: Grown for the fruit. However, their blossoms are tasty, and considered somewhat of a delicacy.
3: Sowing / Starting
Sowing: Zucchini can produce well if sewn directly in the ground. However, in ares where summers are very short (or tend to be cloudy/foggy), starting indoors can sometimes prove beneficial.
Starting Indoors: Start indoors in peat pots as Zucchini roots are sensitive to being disturbed when transplanted. Zucchini will take off so they need a lot of light from the start. A south facing window is ideal. However, good powerful grow lights work well also.
Outdoor Site & Soil Preparation: Squash are voracious eaters. Therefore, rich soil is required. If your soil is not rich, try raking in a little slow release granular fertilizer a week before planting or transplanting. In most cases you won't need to re fertilize that season.
Recommended PH Range: 6.0 - 7.5
Recommended Spacing in Beds: 45 - 60cm (18 - 24")
Good Companions: Nasturtiums, Corn, Radishes, Beans (legumes in general).
Bad Companions: Potatoes
Growing in Containers: Zucchini grow well in containers…provided they are big. We use a minimum of 5 gallon pots for this. The pot should be filled with a good quality potting mix and fertilized every 2 weeks or so with a good water soluble fertilizer. Because pots are high off the ground, it is beneficial to train your Zucchini to grow up a stake or a fence post.
4: Cultivation
Fertilization: Rake in a little compost and / or slow release granular fertilizer in the early spring. Not much more will be required. If your plant produces a lot, re-fertilize every 4 weeks or so.
Harvesting: Cut fruit from stems as they grow to a reasonable size. Zucchini taste best if harvested by the time they are 15 - 20cm (6 - 8") in length. Once they get longer than this they will tend to get fibrous and seedy, and their flavour deteriorates. If your summer is short, you might try cutting them while they are even smaller.
Preservation & Storage : Traditionally eaten fresh. They can be preserved for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. They can also be pickled in the same manner as Cucumbers.
5: Pests & Diseases
Common Pests: Cucumber beetles, Ants. Mice like to burrow out the seeds.
Diseases: Mildew sometimes affects them in wet summers. However most gardeners report mostly disease free crops year after year.
Other Issues & Problems:
6: Harvesting, Usage & Storage
Harvesting: Cut fruit from stems as they grow to a reasonable size. Zucchini taste best if harvested by the time they are 15 - 20cm (6 - 8") in length. Once they get longer than this they will tend to get fibrous and seedy, and their flavour deteriorates. If your summer is short, you might try cutting them while they are even smaller.
Preservation and Storage: Traditionally eaten fresh. They can be preserved for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. They can also be pickled in the same manner as Cucumbers.
Freezing: Zucchini can be frozen in cubes provided they are blanched for 3 minutes prior to freezing.