TIPS TO GROW ZUCCHINI AT HOME ( zucchini cultivation guide)
Are you trying to figure out how to grow zucchini at home, but have no idea on how to start?, well this article is specially for you!.
Zucchini is unbelievably one of the most easiest plants to grow at home.
Maybe there is enough space in your home garden or backyard, it wouldn’t hurt if you consider growing this plant there.
Also, it could be grown in the shade, store or even living room. ( don’t worry, I will explain later).
Zucchini is a kind of vegetable that could grow up to 10 to 18 feet tall if supported with stake/trellis, depending on the variety.
It is in the family of Cucurbita and is a lover of warm weather, that’s why it does very fine in the warmer regions such as Southern USA, Italy etc. This is to say, it thrives in USDA Hardiness Zone 3-9.
VARIETIES OF ZUCCHINI TO GROW AT HOME
Personally, i feel this article won’t be complete if I don’t list out some of the zucchini cultivars or Varieties first.
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There are many varieties of this plant that are quite suitable to be grown at home, some of them are:
Zucchini Golden: This zucchini Variety ‘ the Zucchini Golden’ do produce yellow, bright fruits which are 6 to 8 inches long
The zucchini Golden reaches it’s harvest stage at just around 55 days from the day it was planted.
Cocozelle: This Variety “Cocozelle normally takes a little while of 45 days from the day it was planted to mature and reach harvest stage.
It’s lightly striped with white and it is a bush cultivars.
Lungo Bianco: This variety of zucchini has a compact bush type growth feature and has a larger cavity.
Lungo Bianco do take an average of 70 days from the day it was planted to mature and reach the harvest stage.
It produces fruits which are around 6 to 8 inches long.
Bossa Nova: Bossa Nova is a cultivars of zucchini that has small seeds and creamy flesh. It won the 2015 award in USA and it is best picked when the fruits are 4 to 5 inches long.
PREPARATIONS FOR ZUCCHINI CULTIVATION AT HOME
When you have chosen the variety or cultivars of zucchini to grow at home, the next step is to know or locate where they are going to be planted or grown when they are bought.
As I mentioned above, if you are going to grow them outdoors, maybe at your home garden or backyard, etc, remember this plant is a lover of warm weather condition and does not do well in cold temperature, so make sure to grow it in a garden that is located where the sun could penetrate.
When the most suitable location for growing this crop is determined, then the next step is to prepare the location/home garden for zucchini planting.
To prepare the garden, you could either prefer to do it manually or with machines.
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To prepare the home garden manually, tools such as , Cutlass, rake, wheelbarrow, spade, hoe is needed to uproot the grasses or weeds in the garden, rake them and dispose them off with the help of wheelbarrow.
If you prefer to work your garden with machines, there are some machines that will do the work for you, more easily and faster too.
Zucchini requires a very fertile soil in order to grow fast, healthy and give good quality yields, so after clearing the garden, you can apply any type of organic or non-organic manures on the empty garden soil.
This is to help improve the soil fertility which this plant requires most.
When the manures have fully settled or absorbed into the soil, then proceed to make small holes of about an inch where the zucchini seeds will be planted, giving them a space of about 8 to 15 inches gap.
NOTE – Preparation of home garden and planting of zucchini should be done after frost, or they will not survive the cold temperature.
As I stated earlier, home Garden or maybe backyard are not the only places where zucchini plants could be grown at home, it could also be grown inside the house.
Although this is rare, but it is great, especially for those in the cooler regions.
Zucchini seeds could be grown right inside the house and later transplant into the garden when the weather condition is favorable.
To grow zucchini inside the house, you need seeds tray or any container that could be used to grow things in the house.
Fill the container with fertile loamy soil and make an inch holes where the seeds will be sown.
HOW TO PLANT ZUCCHINI AT HOME
If you want to grow this plant in the home garden, once the winter (frost) is over, go and prepare the garden, as I directed above.
After preparing the garden, then order the seeds. ( Seeds Now have good quality of it, click here to check them out.)
When the seeds arrive, go straight to the garden and sow them on an average of 2 or 3 per hole and cover them with sand.
Apply tiny water on an average of 1 inch of water per seeds once, they will start germinating in a matter of days or a week.
If you want to grow indoors, immediately the seeds arrive, take them to the container you prepared earlier and sow them in those holes you made on an average of 2 to 3 per hole and also apply tiny amount of water on them and they will germinate.
The room temperature should be okay for this plant even in winter, and if the room temperature is not that great, warm up your room then!.
Also endeavor to bring them out where the sun will get to them when ever the sun comes out.
Zucchini seeds should be planted at about 4 to 6 weeks before the end of the winter season, so that before then, they have germinated and have also grown real leaves and are matured enough to be transplanted to the home Garden.
To transplant them, first prepare the garden and make larger holes this time, depending on the size of the plants you want to transplant.
At least make holes of about 4 to 6 inches deep in the soil, again depending on the size of the plants.
Get the plants out with their roots intact and place them inside the holes and cover with sand.
Getting the tender zucchini plants could be risky and accidents may occur.
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The best way to go about this is to buy the type of pot (containers) that’s made of organic matters which could be planted in the soil together with the crop. I think this is the safest way to go about this.
When they have been successfully transplanted, apply not more than 2 inches of water per plant and allow them sit!.
CARE OF ZUCCHINI PLANTS AT HOME
Zucchini plants does require some care and special handling if you want them to grow healthy and produce nice fruits.
Some of the things to do in order to take care of them are:
Watering/Irrigation: Water is important for the survival of this plant, but water could also be an enemy to it too.
This is due to the fact that this plant is a warm weather plant, it does not tolerate both waterlogging and frost, so when applying water, precautions should be taken in order not to hurt the plants.
When they are recently planted ( seeds) they require water to help them in the germination process, and so like I have instructed above, tiny amount of water should be given to them per seed on an average of 2 weeks gap.
When they germinate, about an inch of water should be given to each of them per 2 weeks, especially when they are still indoors and about 2 inches of water or little bit less if they are outdoors in the garden.
They could be watered with water sprinkler, drip irrigation or water hose.
Avoid watering if there is frequent rainfall, instead, try to construct a good water drainage system that will be depleting the amount of water being stored in the soil, and also grow this plant in a soil that drains quickly because it helps also.
Failure to Control the amount of rain water being stored in the soil or over watering could be very catastrophic for you, that’s why the drip watering system is the best.
Application of Fertilizer: Fertilizer is also another thing this plant requires in order to grow healthy and produce nice yields.
Although they don’t need Fertilizers or manures in larger amount, they just need the soil to be very fertile and they are okay with it.
So the sense here is to make the soil very fertile, not heaping fertilizers or manures on the plants, they don’t require it that way!.
In my own case, what works for me when growing zucchini is, I don’t apply any manure, both organic and non organic once the plants have been sown.
I do this before sowing the seeds or transplanting them by spraying manures on the empty garden, (especially organic manures) leave them there for a little while for them to be absorbed into the soil.
By this method, the soil should be very fertile and will give the zucchini plants a very nice boost once they are planted.
Although you may choose a different method, what ever works for you, but don’t over fertilize the plants, as they don’t really require to much Fertilizers.
It is safer to apply Fertilizer to zucchini plant once in their life time, depending on the quality of the soil.
Crop Rotation: Crop rotation is one of the most important things to do in order to help zucchini plants succeed, but it is very sad that most gardeners tend to overlook this powerful strategy, that’s why they keep having problems with their zucchini crops.
Like is said, crop rotation is a one powerful strategy to be successful with zucchini because it helps to prevent many obstacles such as diseases, and pests that might have been bred by the previously grown zucchini plants in the same home garden.
Some of these diseases and pests tends to live and survive for a very long time in the soil, so rotating zucchini plants or any plant in the family of Cucurbita to another garden for a long time ( maybe 2 to 4 years) and growing other type of crop there will help eliminate those diseases and pests in the soil.
You see?, rotation this plant is very helpful and necessary.
Weeding: Weed does go a long way to disturb and hinder this plant from growing and yielding if not controlled faster and adequately.
Every Gardener should bear in mind that weed is an unavoidable phenomenon which couldn’t be out run, but controlled!.
Zucchini plant is very prone to diseases and pests, and when weed is not controlled might breed and harbor pests and diseases. Apart from that, weed do outgrown the zucchini plant and block them from the sun which is very harmful for this plants.
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Again weeds do compete with zucchini plant in terms of absorbing both soil nutrients and water which the zucchini plants need to survive and grow healthy on the long run.
You see why weed shouldn’t be tolerated to grow in zucchini home garden?
To control the activities of weeds in the home Garden where zucchini is being grown, you will need to Control them manually by using tools such as weeding hoe and a wheelbarrow to uproot them one after the other, pack them in a wheelbarrow and dispose off!. ( they might re-grow, so dispose them off from the Garden)
Apart from the use of tools to uproot the weeds, they could also be controlled with the help of chemicals such as herbicides.
These chemicals once spread on them will wilt, dry and kill them without you doing any extra work. This method is the easiest way to Control weeds.
Exposing/Access to Sunlight: Many gardeners undermine the power of sunlight to zucchini plants, that’s one of the reasons they end up growing poor zucchini plants and fruits.
Giving zucchini full access to sunlight is one huge way to care for this plant, that’s why it is regarded as a warm weather plant because it requires good amount of sunlight, and it’s performance is very poor when grown in a location that is not penetratable by sunlight etc.
So in order to take care of this plant, in regards to exposure to good amount of sunlight, try cutting or pruning large trees around the home garden where the zucchini plants will be grown,and also weeds, so that the sun could easily penetrate. And avoid growing this plant in winter.
Application of Stake/Trellis: Applying of stake or trellis is very important for this plant.
For this plant to grow and produce good quality yields, it must be supported!, though it depends on the variety.
We all know that many plants in the Cucurbita family does have vines instead of stems, so once any of them is being grown, a very good support should be put in place.
apply stake or trellis, once the plants have grown up a bit, to go about this, get long branch of trees or any thing that could be used to support the plants, stand them about 4 to 8 inches closer to the plants, you can choose to use soft ropes to tie the plants and the supports together, but not very firm.
Mulch: Mulch is very necessary when growing zucchini, although many gardeners do ignore it, but it is very good to apply it anyway!.
The importance of mulch is, it protects the plants when they are still tender against pests, too much rainfall and too much sun heat too.
Apart from plant protection, mulch do protect the soil too from rain and also heat, thereby keeping the soil very cool and great for zucchini plants to thrive on.
To apply mulch, use straw, thick paper or even compost to cover around the plants, leaving few of their leaves out, so that they will not be totally covered which is very harmful to them.
Pruning: We all know that not all plants survive, no matter the farming condition.
In this case, it is important to prune off those zucchini plants that are not performing well. ( unhealthy). This will help, give the other plants the chance to utilize soil manure and do exceptionally great.
DISEASES/PESTS CONTROL: Zucchini plant is one of those plants that are very prone to various types of diseases, that’s why it is very necessary to take extra precaution when growing it.
It has a large number of diseases, some of them are:
BACTERIAL WILT: This disease ‘ bacterial wilt is caused by bacterium erwinia tracheiphila.
It brings about the wilt of the leaves which could turn dark green and the stems discolored.
Sadly, this disease is very deadly that it does not have a known cure, in order to control it, once any Zucchini plant is infected, pull it out and throw away, so that it does not affect the other plants.
BACTERIAL LEAF SPOT: This disease develops as small spots on the leaves that form a small yellow margin. It is caused by a bacterial known as xanthomonas campestris.
It also brings about small spots on Zucchini fruits.
This disease do attack Zucchini through open wounds.
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This disease is seed borne and in order to prevent it from attacking your zucchini plants, get seeds that are free from this disease.
Also as I mentioned above, crop rotation is an option that could be fun seed to control this disease.
Again copper based fungicide could be used to control it too.
BLOSSOM END ROT: This disease do show signs as light brown spots at the end of young zucchini fruits, the more the fruits grow, the spot turn dark and leathery.
It is caused by lack of calcium in Zucchini plants, and so it is sometimes not classified as real disease, but malnutrition.
In order to control this, test the soil before planting this crop and if there is lack of calcium or any soil nutrient, endeavor to apply it.
In some cases, lack of enough water in zucchini plants could cause this blossom end rot, so make sure to measure your water and give them enough irrigation.
Also control the amount of nitrogen you apply in your Zucchini plants as it could bring about this.
ALTERNARIA LEAF BLIGHT: This is caused by fungus known as alternaria cucumerina.
This fungus do make Zucchini leaves to have yellow and brownish spots. This disease has the characteristics of attacking the older zucchini plant leaves first before going for the younger ones.
If not properly controlled, it will cause the leaves to curl up and die, which will eventually kill the plant as a whole.
This Fungus does not only affect the leaves, it could also affect the fruits by causing lesions to form on the fruits.
This disease could affect the plants in either humid, hot areas with good amount of rainfall and it usually show up in midsummer.
In order to control this disease, avoid watering zucchini plants from the heat (top) only water at the bottom if necessary.
Weed is a very disastrous element if allowed to grow in zucchini garden as they do harbor this disease.
Prune away the infected leaves in order to control this disease.
fungicide sprays are a good choice. Apply every 7 to 10 days.
CUCUMBER MOSAIC VIRUS: This virus do stunt zucchini plants.
The leaves if the affected plants do have Mosaic like pattern and may curl downwards. It might cause the stunt of the growth of the fruits and have them discolored.
This virus could be dispersed by beetles, contaminated garden tools.
Again this virus could be harbored by weeds and it could affect plants at any season.
In order to minimize this virus, there are some varieties of zucchini that are resistance to this disease, plant it.
DOWNY MILDEW: This is a fungus that attack zucchini plants, causing downy mildew.
It makes yellow or pale green spots on the leaves of this plant.
Eventually, the leaves will turn brown and may start curling. It thrives in wet condition.
In order to control this disease, water only the bottom of this plant, and measure the amount of water you apply.
If this disease has already infected your plants, pullout the infected ones and throw them away.
This is the most exciting stage of zucchini cultivation at home. At this stage, the zucchini plants have grown fruits and the fruits have started maturing.
The maturity stage is heavily determined by the cultivars, as I explained earlier in this article.
On an average, it takes between 60 days to 100 for the zucchini fruits to start maturing and be ready for harvesting.
To know when they are ready for harvesting, they will become firm, glossy, and somewhat between 4 and 6 inches long.
Zucchini fruits are best harvested when they are still small because they are creamy and then and succulent and could be used in preparation of many dishes than when they have grown bigger.
When zucchini grow bigger, they are not succulent anymore and the number of recipes it could be prepared with is somehow limited now.
So to harvest them, use a sharp kitchen knife or a pruner to cut the vegetables out of their vines.
Cut at least one inch stem with the vegetable, which will help keep the zucchini fresh a little while.
The harvesting process is not once, as the plants will keep growing more vegetables till the end of their farming season.
STORAGE OF ZUCCHINI
This article can not be complete if I don’t explain the storage process.
After harvest, the next step is always how to store.
To store this vegetable, it requires a refrigerator to freeze them which could last for few days.
Before storing, clean any water on them, put them in a dry container and place them in the freezer to freeze.
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