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How To Grow Zucchini (From Seed To Harvest)

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Learn how to grow lots of zucchini in your backyard garden! This easy to grow squash is so prolific that just a few plants will keep your family well stocked with this versatile squash all year long.

If you want to grow a lot of food in your backyard garden then growing zucchini is a great way to get started!

Zucchini is a very easy to grow type of summer squash that produces huge yields of fruits.

It’s these high amounts of produce that make so many of us gardeners joke about leaving bags of zucchini on our neighbors doorsteps while we run for cover.

Tips for growing zucchini text overlaid on a photo of a zucchini plant growing in the garden.

But don’t worry there are so many great recipes to use up zucchini and it’s really easy to freeze to enjoy through the winter too.

How To Grow Zucchini

Zucchini plant in the garden covered in dark green zucchini ready to harvest.
Dark Green Zucchini

Zucchini is a warm-season vegetable that loves to grow in warm soil and prefers full sun. But if your yard is partly shaded you can still grow zucchini it will just yield a little less.

Starting Spring and Summer Zucchini

Indoors

Start zucchini indoors by seed in late April to early May (4 to 6 weeks before your last frost date) if you want to get a head start on the growing season.

But wait to plant them outside until after your last frost date and don’t forget to harden the seedlings off first.

Fill your seed starting cell packs with a good quality seed starter that has been moistened and press the soil down gently but firmly. Top with more seed starter if needed.

Starting zucchini from seed by planting seeds into cell packs.
Starting zucchini from seed

Place 1-2 zucchini seed into each cell, then press them down 1/2 to 1 inch deep and cover with more seed starter.

Poking zucchini seeds under the soil and covering with seed starter.
Poke the zucchini seeds under the soil

Water the try well and place in a warm place until the seeds have germinated. A light set with a heat mat works great to get your squash seeds germinating quickly.

Zucchini seedlings
Zucchini seedlings

If you planted 2 seeds in each cell make sure to thin out the weakest seedling after they have germinated.

When starting zucchini indoors remember that like all squash it grows quickly. Use larger 48 count plant trays instead of the smaller 72 count.

Once the plants have grown up a little either transplant into your garden after hardening off or pot up into larger containers.

You may read that zucchini and other summer squashes don’t transplant well but I’ve started them indoors or in our greenhouse by seed for years and found that the plants do much better than those sown directly in the garden.

The key to success I’ve found it to use a good seed starting mix like this one, and larger containers so the plant has lots of room to grow without becoming root-bound.

Outdoors

If you would like to start zucchini by direct seeding in your garden then wait until after your last frost date when the soil temperature has reached 68 to 95 F (25 to 35C).

Sow 3 seeds together in hills, 1/2 to 1 inch deep and space the hills 3 feet apart.

You can thin the plants down to the strongest plant after they have a set of true leaves. But I’ve always grown them in clusters of 3 plants and found they grew very well.

Growing Zucchini In Your Fall Garden

Fresh zucchini ready to harvest in the garden.
Fresh zucchini ready to harvest

Although zucchini is a warm-season vegetable it does very well when planted for a fall garden. In many ways, it can be better than a spring planing because most of the common pests for summer squash aren’t as common in the later summer and early fall.

Sow zucchini by seeds or transplants in late July to early August so that they start producing in September and October.

If you have an early frost or cold spell then make sure to cover the plants with a floating row cover to protect them. Remove it during the day to allow for pollinators to get at the flowers, or pollinate by hand.

Soil Preparation & Fertilizing

Zucchini like all squash are fast-growing plants that need a lot of fertilizer and water.

Prepare your growing bed by adding lots of high-quality compost or well-rotted manure in the fall or early spring.

This should easily provide enough nutrients for the plants to grow well through the summer. But you can fertilize with compost tea, liquid fish emulsion or your favorite vegetable fertilizer as needed.

Harvesting Zucchini

Summer squash grows very quickly so depending on the variety you’re growing they will be ready to harvest in as little as 40 to 60 days.

Female Zucchini Flowers
Female Zucchini Flowers

Zucchini like all squash plants start off making male flowers first. You’ll recognize these as the flower stem is longer than the female flowers.

The female flowers come a little later and are easy to recognize because they have a tiny fruit at the base of the flower.

As long as they have good pollination you will be able to start harvesting fresh zucchini’s 4 to 8 days after the first female flowers have developed.

Harvest young zucchini’s often when they are 4 to 6 inches long, this is when they are the most tender and the best for eating. Make sure to check your plants every few days for zucchini’s that are ready to harvest and keep the plants picked.

Picking often will help them to keep producing. If you find any giant overgrown zucchini’s make sure to pick them right away and shred them for making zucchini bread.

If you let them stay on the plant too long it will cause the plant to slow down, and finally stop producing fruit.

To harvest, zucchini hold the fruit in one hand and use a knife to cut the stem. A good pair of garden shears work well too.

Cutting the zucchini’s off the plant works much better than the other common way of twisting the zucchini’s off. While this can work ok for larger, more mature squash it often breaks the top off the younger more tender fruit.

This can cause it to not last as long.

Zucchini leaves and stems can be very prickly so make sure to wear a good pair of garden gloves with arm protection when harvesting if you have sensitive skin.

Zucchini Pests & Diseases

Varieties Of Zucchini

Romanesco

David's Garden Seeds Zucchini Costata Romanesco SV2053 (Green) 25 Non-GMO, Heirloom SeedsDavid’s Garden Seeds Zucchini Costata Romanesco SV2053 (Green) 25 Non-GMO, Heirloom SeedsDavid's Garden Seeds Zucchini Costata Romanesco SV2053 (Green) 25 Non-GMO, Heirloom Seeds

 

If you only grow one type of zucchini or summer squash then Romanesco is a great choice! This Italian heirloom is a bushy, open plant. The fruit is greyish-green skin with light green flecks and ribs.

As pretty as it is to look at it tastes even better than most common zucchini with a lovely nutty taste. 55 Days, open-pollinated

Get Romanesco zucchini seeds here.

Black Beauty

David's Garden Seeds Zucchini Black Beauty SL149QU (Green) 50 Heirloom SeedsDavid’s Garden Seeds Zucchini Black Beauty SL149QU (Green) 50 Heirloom SeedsDavid's Garden Seeds Zucchini Black Beauty SL149QU (Green) 50 Heirloom Seeds

 

Black Beauty zucchini is a great example of a standard summer squash. This variety has been grown since the 1920s.

It produces large bushy plants with a more open center. With high yields of fruit with good flavor, creamy white flesh and dark green skin it’s a great choice for most gardens. 60 Days, open-pollinated

Get Black Beauty zucchini seeds here.

Raven

David's Garden Seeds Zucchini Raven SL2084 (Green) 25 Non-GMO, Hybrid SeedsDavid’s Garden Seeds Zucchini Raven SL2084 (Green) 25 Non-GMO, Hybrid SeedsDavid's Garden Seeds Zucchini Raven SL2084 (Green) 25 Non-GMO, Hybrid Seeds

 

Raven zucchini is an early variety that is nearly thornless and grows in an open style making it very easy to harvest. Raven provides high yields early in the season. 48 days, hybrid

Get Raven zucchini seeds here.

Yellowfin

David's Garden Seeds Zucchini Yellowfin SV388 (Yellow) 25 Non-GMO, Organic, Hybrid SeedsDavid’s Garden Seeds Zucchini Yellowfin SV388 (Yellow) 25 Non-GMO, Organic, Hybrid SeedsDavid's Garden Seeds Zucchini Yellowfin SV388 (Yellow) 25 Non-GMO, Organic, Hybrid Seeds

 

Yellowfin is a beautiful yellow zucchini with a rich flavor and buttery texture. It grows on bushy, open plants that are almost thornless making it easy to harvest from.

Very resistant to cucumber mosaic virus and powdery mildew. 50 Days, hybrid

Get Yellowfin zucchini seeds here.

Golden Zucchini

Burpee Golden Zucchini Summer Squash Seeds 50 seedsBurpee Golden Zucchini Summer Squash Seeds 50 seedsBurpee Golden Zucchini Summer Squash Seeds 50 seeds

 

This heirloom zucchini has beautiful bright yellow skin with a classic zucchini flavor. It’s not quite as productive as green varieties but really adds a nice color to your stir-fries and other dishes. 54 Days, open-pollinated

Get Golden zucchini seeds here.

How Many Zucchini Do You Get From One Plant?

Zucchini are heavy producers and will give you lots of fruit throughout the summer. One zucchini plant can produce 6 to 10 pounds of zucchini easily over the growing season.

How Many Zucchini Plants Should I Grow?

It is so easy to over plant zucchini and then end up with more than you can ever use. But at the same time, you don’t want to not have enough of this great summer squash either.

Plan on planting 3 or 4 zucchini plants for a family of 4. This is plenty for fresh eating and putting some up for winter.

How Long Will Zucchini Plants Produce?

Zucchini plants will start producing fruit about a week after the first female flowers are pollinated.

As long as you keep harvesting the plants often, picking the fruit when they are 4 to 6 inches long they will keep producing until fall when the frost kills them.

Don’t hesitate to grow zucchini in your garden because it’s so productive. Just limit the number of plants that you grow so that you can enjoy this easy to grow treat!

Don’t forget to pin for later!

Everything you need to know to grow great zucchini text overlaid on a photo collage of a zucchini plant and piles of harvested zucchini.
How To Grow Zucchini From Seed To Harvest text overlaid on a photo of zucchini piled on top of each other.

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