Zucchini plants provide a lot of harvesting making them a fun crop to grow. Here is how to grow zucchini (Do zucchini need a trellis?!) or any other summer squash.
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Do zucchini need a trellis?
When planting zucchini plants, you might be wondering “Do zucchini need a trellis?”
While trellising makes harvesting the zucchini much easier and it is a good idea because it provides good air circulation, this versatile vegetable doesn’t have to be trellised. Zucchini can be planted right on the ground and no extra work has to be done. For a bountiful harvest of zucchini, it is a good idea to plant zucchini on a structure that goes up. This is not a vining plant, so you will need to put the zucchini vines around the trellis every couple days. Tie the vines with twine or use a plant tying machine to whatever you choose to use for a trellis. Whether you build an arch trellis, use chicken wire, or just using strong stakes, having these summer-squash plants up off the ground will make your life much easier.
If you want to grow a great zucchini crop this year, keep reading for all the tips I have in this step-by-step guide on growing zucchini.
Planting Zucchini Seeds
Sow zucchini seeds directly into the ground after all danger of frost has past or start the seeds indoors 2-3 weeks before your last average frost date. Living in garden zone 4, I choose to start this warm-season plant indoors. Seeds will start sprouting within just a few days. The most common zucchini variety of seeds to plant is black beauty zucchini, however there are many other varieties of zucchini to try, so go explore.
Transplanting Zucchini Seedlings
After nighttime temperatures stay above 50 degrees F and soil temperatures are 70 degrees F, you can transplant zucchini seedlings into the garden. Be sure to have a hardening off stage first, whether you grew your own zucchini from seed or buy from garden centers. This prevents shock to the young plants. Put seedlings out for just a half-hour in the shade on the first day and add more time outdoors each day for a week until they are ready to handle eight hours of direct sunlight.
Plant zucchini in an area that gets plenty of sunlight and has plenty of space to grow, especially if you are not trellising. If you are using vertical gardening, then you don’t necessarily have to worry about the space.
Plant zucchini seedlings on the south side of the trellis to help it give the most sunlight. Since zucchini doesn’t naturally vine, you will need to tie the zucchini stems to your zucchini trellis. Some trellis options include 6-foot tall metal stakes, finding a wooden trellis, or building an arch trellis.
Container gardening is also an option for planting. Using a large pot, just place a single plant right in the middle. Put a stake next to it.
Grow zucchini next to beans and corn, as they are the best companion plants for any type of summer squashes. Great companion plants can make a big difference in gardening.
How to Water Zucchini Plants
Once the zucchini is in the ground and receiving full sun, you will need to give them about an inch of water per week. However, if it is a particularly hot week, water them some more, up to 2 inches per week.
The best way to water zucchini plants is to use a soaker hose or drip irrigation. Watering from underneath helps prevent a powdery mildew that can form on the leaves. You can keep just about constant moist soil by applying 2–3 inches of mulch around the base of the plant.
About 45-55 days after planting, flowers will start to show up. These flowers are actually edible! However, make sure you don’t harvest all the zucchini flowers, as the bees will need some to pollinate. Use a sharp knife or garden scissors to cut the zucchini bloom on its stem about a half-inch to an inch below the bloom. Remove the stem stub before cooking.
The female flowers will be on the longer stem and have a small fruit in between the flower and the stem, while the male flowers will be on the short stems and have nothing in the flower.
If you find that there are many flowers but you aren’t receiving much fruit, the zucchini plant may need to be hand pollinated. This is fairly simple. In the morning, when the flowers are open, grab a male flower and rub it on the inside of a female flower. You can also use a Q-tip and rub the inside of the male first and then rub it on the stigma of the female flower.
The right time to harvest zucchini is when you see them! I say this because zucchini grows insanely fast. One minute, they are just barely popping out and you go to bed. When you wake up in the morning, they are gigantic! If you can, try to harvest when they are about 6 inches long. The smaller zucchini will taste better. However, don’t panic if you end up with a zucchini thats 2 feet long and wider than anything you’ve ever seen before. You can still shred that up and use it in things like zucchini bread.
Zucchini can be planted in the middle of a tomato cage. You can then tie the zucchini vines as they grow onto the tomato cage for a wonderful vertical gardening system.
Staking helps zucchini grow upwards for a vertical gardening solution, saving you space and allowing air circulation for the plant.
Yes, zucchini and tomatoes can be planted together. These aren’t the best companion plants, but there is no negative consequences for them being next to each other. They are easy to grow next to each other as they both require the same growing conditions, such as full sun and well-draining soil.
No. One zucchini plant is all that is needed as each plant has both male and female flowers on it for pollination.
What do you do now that you have all of this zucchini?! Unfortunately, canning zucchini isn’t really an option unless you are making a relish or something like that. Freezing or dehydrating provides you with the best methods of preservation. I like to freeze my shredded-up zucchini in portion sizes of 2 cups.
Try these zucchini recipes: