This post contains affiliate links. If you buy through these links, I may earn a small commission.
Learn how to grow zucchini in your vegetable garden.
A little Zucchini goes a long way! You only need to plant a few zucchinis in your garden to enjoy a large harvest. They just keep on setting more and more zucchinis. Here is how to grow zucchini.
Why You Should Grow Zucchini
Zucchini is more of a summer squash and a heat loving plant – I don’t put my zucchini plants into the garden until the weather warms up. Usually this means, they don’t put in the garden until early June here in the north.
We love zucchini loaf and I make lots of it during the winter. You can also make your own homemade dill pickles! Here’s how I grow and harvest zucchini.
How to Grow Zucchini
Like a lot of the other vegetables, I sow Zucchini seeds in the house. Since we live in the North, we cannot seed a lot of vegetables right into the garden. The Zucchini seedlings stay in the house under growing lights until the nights warm up a bit and I feel more confident about planting them outside.
This can also help to prevent losing young tender zucchini to pests like squash vine borers (moth larvae), powdery mildew, bacterial wilt, or striped cucumber beetles. Neem oil can be used to prevent insects from laying eggs on the insides of zucchini stems.
Also be aware that disease can spread quickly among zucchini leaves, so water the soil under the plants as opposed to the leaves or vines to prevent blossom-end rot.
When to Plant Zucchini
You can see that some of the Zucchini is already blooming – it is time to get these squash plants in the ground.
Actually it is past the ideal growing season, but I simply cannot put these in the ground until it is warmer outside and the danger of frost has passed.
This year I only planted 6. Zucchini is very prolific – a plant or two should be enough for a family. We usually grow about 20 of these plants as we feed a lot of them to the pigs and chickens. They love it!
Since we aren’t doing pigs this year, I reduced the amount of plants we needed.
Transplanting Zucchini Plants
Look at the good root system on this Zucchini – it’s awesome. The bigger the root system, the better. The plant will have a much better chance of success when it is transplanted into the garden.
I plant them in holes about one foot apart. Zucchini is a heavy feeder when it comes to nutrients, so if you are still working on improving your soil, add a shovelful of well composted manure or other types of compost or organic fertilizer to each hole.
Another way to account for this is to plant zucchini near helpful companion plants like beans or peas, or flowers like dahlias or catmint for better pollination.
When I first plant them out, each evening I go out and cover the row with Remay cloth. Remay adds a few degrees of frost protection, which will increase the chances of all the plants getting settled and starting to grow.
I’ll keep putting on and taking off the Remay cloth until mid-June or whenever the weather warms up. You could actually just leave the Remay on there all the time, except for when the plants are flowering.
When to Pick Zucchini
Zucchini produce both male and female flowers, and both are necessary to pollinate together and form zucchini fruits. As a self-pollinator it shouldn’t need much help, but if you find your zucchini isn’t fruiting, you can use a cotton swab to manually brush pollen from a male flower onto the stigma of a female zucchini flower to help them along.
If you’ve got lots of bees around, you probably won’t have to worry about this! You can also eat male zucchini flowers once they’ve done their pollination.
An important thing to remember about growing Zucchini is, once it starts fruiting, the plants need to be checked on pretty much daily. What started out as a tiny squash two days ago, could today be perfect for picking and eating!
Zucchini grows very quickly and before long, you will discover squash the size of small baseball bats. These large ones, while not the best for eating, can be used for making loaves and other zucchini baking recipes. The best flavor tends to come from the younger and more tender fruits.
Zucchini likes a good amount of water – other than water and frost protection, they don’t need much assistance. Using mulches is a good way to retain moisture.
How to Harvest Zucchini
We harvest Zucchinis by just carefully twisting the fruit so the stem will break. The plants will keep producing as long as you keep picking. Small Zucchini squash with the blossoms still attached are a big hit at the Farmer’s Market.
Zucchini can also be cut with a sharp knife. In the picture above, the best Zucchini for eating at dinner time are the ones in the middle of the picture.
The larger ones I peel and then grate them. Putting them in 2 cups measured into a Ziplock bag, these are perfect for making Zucchini loaf. Pop the bags in the freezer and you’ll be all set.
You can also dehydrate Zucchini to make chips. Just slice thin and dry them, either in a dehydrator or in the sun with a layer of cheesecloth on top, to keep the bugs off. Make sure you bring them in at night, then put them back out in the morning.
How to Save Zucchini Seed
Zucchini is very easy to harvest seed from. You need to use Heirloom Zucchini Seed when planting. When you harvest zucchini, just scoop out the seeds and dry them. Then keep them in an envelope or plastic baggy and store them in a cold dark place.
The following year, just plant those seeds and you’ll never have to buy Zucchini seeds again. And if you have more seed than you will need, why not enjoy some Roasted Zucchini seeds? They are delicious.
Now, I am heading out to the Garden. I need to plant more cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli, as well as seeding more beets. Then I need to get more Potato plants in. Want to learn how to plant potatoes?
Grow Zucchini this year in your vegetable garden!
Want to find out which are The 5 Easiest Vegetables to Grow?
Available only to subscribers; join our Newsletter!
originally published 2011; latest update October 2022.