Zucchini: A Growing Guide

A prolific summer squash, zucchini is a favorite among organic gardeners.

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You're probably well aware of how productive this summer squash can be. Once it takes off, it just doesn't stop producing. You can do lots of things with zucchini, though—cook and serve it in casseroles, slice it up and add it to pancakes, or bake zucchini bread. 
 
Growing Guide 
  • Soil preparation: Zucchini likes well-drained, fertile soil that's been amended with lots of compost
  • Planting: Plant seed outdoors when the soil temperature has reached 60°F—about a week after the last frost. 
  • Spacing: You want to give your squash a lot of room to spread out and grow. Plant them about 3 to 4 feet apart in rows 8 to 12 feet apart. 
  • Watering: Zucchini like consistently moist soil. To prevent problems with disease, always water from below. 
  • Fertilizing: Spray plants with compost tea two weeks after seedlings come up. Spray again in three weeks or when the first flowers appear. 
  • Special hint: If space is limited, put up a trellis for vertical support. 

 

Pest Watch 
Pale to brown blotches on leaves are the work of squash bugs. Squash vine borers cause plants to wilt suddenly. 
 
Disease Alert 
Powdery mildew may strike the plants, leaving whitish powdery spots on leaves that turn brown and dry. Plants that wilt and ooze a sticky sap when cut may be infected with bacterial wilt, which is spread by cucumber beetles. 
 
Harvesting 
Harvest zucchini when the fruits are still small—about 3 to 4 inches across or 4 to 6 inches long. You can store zucchini in the refrigerator for about a week. 
 
For more information, see also the squash article.
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