Zucchini is one of the easier vegetable crops to grow during the warmer months of the year. Their growth habit is quick and doesn't take up much space in the veggie patch.
Where and when to plant zucchini
Grow zucchini during the warmer months of the year. They prefer a full sun position during Spring and Autumn for warmer climates. Cooler climates can grow zucchini in full sun during Summer, but for warmer climates grow zucchini in a protected area in semi-shade from the hottest temperatures. In the tropics grow zucchini from late Autumn to early Spring. It is important to bear in mind that only one type of zucchini should be cultivated in the garden at any one time, to prevent cross-pollination affecting the quality of your crop.
How to plant zucchini
Zucchini are quick growing and require plenty of rich, nutrient composted soil to feed their growth. Before planting seedlings or seeds, dig in some 5 IN 1 Organic Fertiliser into the existing soil and mix well. This will give them good drainage to prevent fungal infections. More compact varieties of zucchini are suitable for larger pots. Plant in Herb & Vegetable Specialty Mix for container growing. Zucchini plants grow well next to sweet corn crops.
Pollination of zucchini
There are many different types of zucchini available, but grow only one type of zucchini at a time as cross-pollination between different varieties can reduce fruit quality. Zucchini are pollinated by bees, so avoid using insecticides around them. If natural pollination is not successful, try hand pollination. Gently remove the male flower (identified by its powdery pollen-covered stamens in the centre) and lightly wipe the inside of the female flower (identified by a slight swelling at its base) with it.
Water zucchini plants every couple of days at soil level to keep the foliage and developing fruit dry, reducing the development of powdery mildew and other fungal diseases. Preferably water early mornings to let the plant foliage and fruit dry out before nightfall. A layer of mulch will keep their roots protected from moisture loss and provide a barrier from the soil to keep the fruit dirt free.
To increase health and yield of the plant, fertilise with SeaMax Fish & Kelp every fortnight.
Pests & diseases of zucchini
Powdery mildew is the main fungal disease which plagues zucchini. It covers the leaves with white powdery dust and is particularly an issue during the Summer months. Powdery Mildew can be controlled by treating the affected foliage at first sight with Searles Mancozeb Plus. Aphids and thrips may colonise on young growth and should be sprayed with Searles Bug Beater if the infestation is heavy.
Zucchini are tastier when picked young and tender. The longer they are left on the plant the more bitter and woody in taste they become. It also redirects its growth from new fruits developing. So pick early and often to maximise your yield.