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Introduction on how to grow zucchini
Lots of gardeners who grow zucchini will provide the whole family and all the friends with zucchini. You can do the same once you know how to grow zucchini. And in all honesty, zucchini almost grows itself. With a little help of you, your zucchini plants will provide you with tons of delicious and fresh food.
what is zucchini?
The zucchini plant belongs to the Cucurbita pepo family. In fact, the terms zucchini and courgette are used for the same plant. Zucchini belongs to the Italian language and Courgette comes from the French language.
The zucchini plant is part of the summer squash plants. As opposed to the winter squash, zucchinis don’t preserve well. The winter squashes have a hard outer shell where the summer squashes have really soft shells.
Originally the zucchini plant comes from Central and South America but the zucchini we know was developed in Italy.
Where to grow zucchini?
If we want to know how to grow zucchini, we have to know where to grow it, so let’s dive a bit deeper into that.
Zucchini likes a moist soil but not a wet soil. It loves well-draining soil to spread its roots and needs enough space above ground due to the size of the leaves.
It’s also possible to grow zucchinis in pots. Use a pot of 16 inches wide or 40 centimeters and 15 inches deep or 28 centimeters deep.
I personally only grow one plant in a pot with above dimensions but “California gardening” goes up to 2 plants in the pot.
When to grow zucchini in how to grow zucchini?
I would advise starting the seeds about 4 weeks before planting out. Make sure the soil is at least 15°C or 59°F for the plant to stay healthy and grow a lot of fruits. I personally start my seeds indoors about 2 weeks before the last frost so the plants are just about the right size to plant them outside 2 weeks after the last frost. At this moment, the soil has already warmed up a bit.
The seeds should germinate after about a week.
The plants start to flower between 45 days to 60 days after germination.
taking care of zucchini
When sowing the seeds of zucchini, try to plant the seeds as deep as the length of the seed. Keep a distance of at least 36 inches or 90 centimeters.
As already mentioned above, the plants love well-draining moist soil. You can give your plants a good boost by mulching with very rich compost. I know of at least one man who even literally peed next to the plant to give the plant the nutrients it needed. He succeeded and got huge plants with lots of fruits.
When watering the plant, try not to splash too much dirt onto the leaves. This can give powdery mildew a chance to develop. The plants need at least 1 inch or 2,5 centimeters of water a week. When you have sandy soil, it’s better to spread the watering and water almost daily. Make sure the soil doesn’t dry out.
I personally tend to plant several plants together with the above-mentioned distances in place. That way the flowers are easily pollinated.
The zucchini plants love a soil PH-value between 6,5 and 7,5. In this zone, the plant has the most potential to take up the necessary nutrients.
transplanting or planting zucchini
I transplant my zucchini plants as soon as I see 3 or 4 real leaves. Make sure the plants don’t get root bound because zucchini plants can go into growth shock due to locked up roots. Transplant them soon enough.
Transplanting the plants is otherwise as easy as can be, get them out of the container they grow in. Make a hole in the soil as big as the size of the container. Put in the plant and press the soil against the potting soil. This ensures good contact for the roots.
Harvesting zucchini is really easy. Just take a knife or a pair of scissors and cut off the zucchini where the attachment is to the plant.You can also turn the zucchini around until the connection snaps but I find it makes for a much cleaner wound when cutting of the zucchini.
diseases and pests
Aphids tend to come back time after time and every gardener has to deal with them sooner or later. While sucking out the life of your plants, aphids can spread diseases with their saliva.
You can treat the infestation with a hard spray of water or with a homemade insecticidal soap mixture. In any case, you’ll have to treat several times. Keep an interval of 5 to 7 days to kill off the critters and the eggs.
It’s really difficult to see squash borers as they crawl inside the stem of the zucchini plant. As soon as they are hatched, these caterpillars will make a small hole in the stem and start munching on the inside of the plant stems.
The squash borer can stay up to 6 weeks in the plant stem before they turn into a moth that looks more like a wasp.
You can see you have a squash borer problem when plants start to wilt and you see small holes at the base of the stem.
it’s not possible to treat the plant for these bugs as they stay inside the plant stem and are in a way untouchable so prevention is the only solution.
To prevent the attack of squash borers, use neem oil every 5 days at the base of the plant during the months of May and June.
The cabbage looper
Trichoplusia ni or cabbage looper will attack the leaves of the plants. They can spread certain diseases. You can treat the cabbage looper with BT or Bacillus thuringiensis.
Powdery mildew can be caused by a whole bunch of different fungus species but the symptoms are the same. Infected plants display white powdery spots on the leaves and stems.
To flourish, powdery mildew needs dry, windy, and warm weather. The spores are spread by the wind and can infect quite a lot of different plants.
The disease downy mildew is caused by parasitic organisms. It doesn’t have anything to do with a fungus like powdery mildew.
It will mostly show itself and develop in colder temperatures and wetter conditions like early in spring or late summer. Downy mildew needs wet conditions to thrive.
Downy mildew is rather difficult to recognize as it has different patterns on different plants. It can show itself with a soft fuzzy growth on the leaves that is white or gray. It could even show different colors.
Another symptom is the spots on the leaves that turn yellow, brown or purple.
The symptoms will normally start with the lower leaves that get less sunshine.
This fungus can survive in the soil indefinitely and infects the plants from the soil up. The pathogen causing this disease is called Fusarium Oxysporum.
Fusarium will decimate your plants when growing close together. The symptoms are quite obvious. You’ll see the plant wilting all of a sudden and death follows soon after.
There are a lot of ways to prevent the disease being spread like, treating pests in the garden and removing weeds around the plants.
Mycostop can treat the disease if you spot it early enough. It consists of Streptomyces griseoviridis. The product will act as a barrier in the root zone of the plants. The plants that already have been infected should be removed and burned.
The disease comes from the pathogen Phytophthora capsici and can get the plants in a whole lot of trouble. Following are three symptoms of this disease.
crown and root rot
crown and root rot is a common disease where the soil stays too wet for a longer period of time. The leaves of the plant will start to yellow and then turn brown. The stems will slowly die off and there will be no new shoots coming from the plant.
When roots are cut open, you can see the roots have turned brown on the inside.
The fruits will start to rot where they contact the soil. Removing the rotting fruit is the only solution.
The stem will get dark brown to black spots that will spread all over the plant. You’ll have to remove the plant as a whole and disinfect the soil where it was growing.
There’s not really an organic solution for this problem. It can only be avoided by not letting the soil get too soggy. In heavy clay soil, it’s best to make raised beds. This makes sure water can drain through to the lower layers of the soil.
Learning how to grow zucchini is really easy. Don’t be afraid of all the diseases and pests explained, I just want to be thorough.
I haven’t explained all the pests and diseases yet but I will amend the article as soon as I can make decent pictures of certain diseases and pests.
You’ll soon find out that you will be able to provide the whole neighborhood with zucchinis if you do it right.
So this is it for this article on how to grow zucchini, I hope you’ve found it interesting. If so, please share on social media, with friends, and other gardeners.
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Thanks for reading and see you in the next post.