Easy pick gold zucchini

Need Information About Harvesting Zucchini?

When it comes to harvesting zucchini, the size of the squash is the main indicator that your crop is ready to be picked. If you let the zucchini get too big, the seeds will be large and the flesh won’t be quite as tender. However, large zucchini squash are still very edible and they taste almost as good. Additionally, if you continue to harvest the zucchini squash before they get too big, the plants will continue to produce more fruit. During their peak production time, it’s not uncommon to harvest zucchini several times a week.

Zucchini is best harvested when the fruit is about 6 inches long. At this stage, the skin is still very tender and the seeds are quite small. If you intend to make stuffed zucchini or zucchini bread, you can let the squash grow a bit larger. If left unharvested, zucchini squash will easily reach 2-3 feet long and 8-10 inches in diameter.

When harvesting zucchini, use a knife or shears and cut the stem 1 inch above the squash. Do not try to pull or twist the squash off the vine as you will risk damaging the plant and root system. Remember, zucchini plants won’t tolerate root disturbance. Even the slightest tug on the plant could displace the roots enough that the plant will suffer greatly.

If you are interested in harvesting the zucchini blossoms, wait until the flowers have just started to open. They are the most tender and easiest to stuff at this stage. Again, use a knife or shears and cut the stem about an inch above the blossom. You can trim the stems later, before stuffing and cooking.

Zucchini are best eaten within a few days of harvesting them. Because of their high water content, they don’t
store well. They will stay fresh for 3-5 days in the refrigerator. If you have a bumper crop and have no other options, it’s possible to freeze zucchini. You can slice them and place in freezer bags in a freezer. They will keep for 2-3 months. You can also blanch them for 2 minutes in boiling water and then plunge them into an ice water bath for 2 minutes. They can then be frozen and will last up to 6 months. However, keep in mind when freezing zucchini that the quality will suffer. The texture will be slightly soggy and the taste will be diminished. Zucchini can also be pickled much like cucumbers. Our favorite way to store extra zucchini is by making it into zucchini bread and then freezing that. In the last few years, the FDA has recommended that zucchini NOT be canned due to high risks of bacterial contamination.

We hope you have a bumper crop of zucchini all summer long. Now that you’ve begun harvesting zucchini, it’s time for a few recipe ideas.

Let’s paint a picture.

Side by side, you’re looking at two yellow vegetables. Both are relatively cylindrical in shape, both appear to have a bulb at the end. If you weren’t looking for it, you’d probably think they’re the same vegetable, right? If they look the same, and they smell the same, they must be the same… right?

(Pictured: The same thing? Or maybe not.)

Maybe.

What you’re looking at is actually a yellow zucchini and a squash. And a lot of people feel they’re interchangeable. Even here at Quarks, we’ve had the debate brewing amongst our essential elements over the truth of the matter: is there a difference? Is it the same? Does it even matter? The good news is, we’re coming at you in the here and now to settle this once and for all. The truth behind the madness…

What’s the difference?

The truth of the matter is that there isn’t actually a difference… aside from a slight variation of skin tones, a very subtle difference in taste, and a definitive variation of shape. The name “summer squash” is more of a generic term for a whole family of vegetables called Cucurbita pepo. Included in that are a few different types of squash: scalloped, crookneck, straightneck, cocozelle, and vegetable marrows. And of course, the coveted zucchini. The good thing is that no matter what a summer squash is going by, it’ll always give you the same great nutritional value. Summer squash is great for blood sugar regulation, has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer benefits, and has been linked to maintaining prostate health.

The difference here, at the end of the day, is the difference between po-TAY-to and po-TAH-to. Either way, you’re still getting something fresh, healthy, and refreshing on top of all your other beneficial strange toppings.

Ali Hammerquist is the resident blogger and half the social media team for Quarks American Bento. When she’s not dazzling audiences with her fanciful wordplay in blog form, she’s aspiring to publish a novel she has yet to write.

Raised Beds 101

The following 101, on gardening in raised beds, is a collective effort of the HOMEGROWN flock—this means you—and is very much a work in progress. Got a tip to add? A clarification to make? A point you’d like to ponder in public? Post a note in the comments box below, and we’ll incorporate it into the 101. Much obliged for your excellent help!

We’re not talking raised beds in the princess-and-the-pea sense, with fluffy mattresses stacked a mile high. We’re talking raised beds for growing—as in gardening boxes. Usually made out of wood planks, concrete blocks, bricks, or other recycled materials, a raised bed gives you lots of control over your growing patch. HOMEGROWN member Clare says she thinks of raised beds as giant plant pots, an explanation that works pretty well, we think. (Speaking of, see the Container Gardening 101 for growing in plant pots.) For lots of backyard gardeners and home growers, raised beds are key to healthy and successful gardening.
But let’s back up a bit: Why would you choose to grow your tomatoes and zucchini in a raised bed rather than plant them directly in the ground? Lots of reasons, actually.

  • Lots of city folk don’t have digable dirt to begin with. If you’re starting with, say, a concrete slab, a gravel patio, or a flat roof, you can’t till into the ground, but you can build a raised bed right on top.
  • Even if you do have dirt, it might not be something you want to grow edible veggies in. Urban dirt, in particular, can contain high amounts of lead, and dirt anywhere can be less than ideal for growing, whether that means heavy clay or an especially low pH.
  • To take that point further, raised beds give you about as much control as you can have over growing outdoors. (Well, unless your neighbor’s cat sees your raised bed as a giant litter box. You’ll have to take that up with your neighbor.) Because you fill your bed with soil, you know exactly what’s in it, and you can adjust the mix as you see fit. Plus, since most raised beds are engineered so that you can reach all plants from the bed’s exterior, without ever stepping foot in the box, the soil stays loose, easy to weed, and well draining. Fluffy, even. (OK, so there’s one similarity to those princess beds, after all.)

Are you sold on the virtues of raised beds? Cool. We’ll walk through the process of creating and caring for them below, with all tips gleaned from the HOMEGROWN flock.

PREPARING A SPOT: PICKING A LOCATION, TO LINE OR NOT TO LINE

As with any planting project, you’ll want to monitor your available growing space in order to select the best spot possible for your raised bed or beds. Keep tabs on how much light your greater planting area gets at different times during the day—and keep notes. If you plan on growing tomatoes or other crops that need full sun, look for the sunniest spot. If you’re planning to grow an herb that can tolerate some shade, make note of the dappled and partially shaded areas. For more on site design, see the Garden Planning 101 and check out HOMEGROWN Life blogger Rachel’s post on how to .
Once you know where you want to locate your raised bed or beds, you’ll want to prep their footprints. As with everything gardening related, there’s not so much a right way or a wrong way to do this as there are a million rights and a million wrongs, depending on whom you ask.
That said, if you’re concerned about soil contamination, you’ll want to create a barrier layer between the soil in your raised bed and the ground beneath it. HOMEGROWN member Mark recommends laying down 4 to 6 inches of stone, sometimes referred to as “dense grade,” and then a few inches of stone dust. “Tamp the stone dust so it’s tight and then put your loam on top of that,” he writes. “Once you’re all planted, a little salt marsh hay will keep the weeds down and the moisture in.”
Other folks recommend layering newspaper or cardboard, but Rachel cautions that those materials will break down over time. She prefers putting down hardware cloth, which keeps the gophers and moles out, followed by weed fabric. If you don’t expect weeds to be an issue, “I’d go with nonwoven filter fabric, not weedcloth,” she writes. “That will keep the soils from coming into contact with each other but also allows for drainage.”
If you’re not sure whether or not you should be concerned about what’s in your soil, you can conduct a test. For more details, check out Rachel’s handy Soil Testing 101.
If you’re not concerned about comingling dirt, you can dig down into the ground, like HOMEGROWN member Pat, to turn up the existing soil and essentially increase the height of the raised bed (though some of that height isn’t so much “raised” as “sunken”). Or you can go the even less labor-intensive route and simply clear the area on which you’ll build your raised bed of weeds. For a longer rumination, check out this past discussion on bed lining.

CONSTRUCTING YOUR RAISED BED: CHOOSING MATERIALS

Remember that whole no-right-answers thing? Yep. Still goes. There are plenty of schools of thought on what material you should use when constructing raised beds—and just as many more schools on how deep those beds should be.
Let’s tackle building materials first. In true HOMEGROWN fashion, finding something to recycle—and, even better, finding something free to recycle, like Will did (see photo at right)—can be great. The only caveat here is that, in the same way that you want to be aware of the dirt health and safety underneath your bed, you’ll want to keep in mind that any chemicals in the materials you use for the bed frame can leach less than desirable things into your soil. Pressure-treated wood is no bueno, and wood varnishes aren’t safe, either. (Think food-grade, people!)
If you’re heading to the lumber yard, Rachel recommends Douglas fir for its cost effectiveness—2x10s, to be exact. If money is no object, redwood and cedar are ideal. Erik likes red cedar for its aesthetic value and its natural resistance to rot. Pine is OK, too, Rebekah says, as long as it’s not treated. Not used to surveying lumber? Glean some inspiration from Mud Pies to Sticky Buns’ empowering post on going to the hardware store and getting it done!
One note on wood: Since you don’t want to seal or otherwise chemically weatherproof the wood, it will degrade over time, meaning your beds will have a finite lifespan. But if you’re anything like most HOMEGROWN folks, you learn by doing, and in five years or so, you may be antsy to build new beds, incorporating what you learned from your first attempt.
Other folks skip wood altogether. HOMEGROWN member Lynda used cinder blocks to build raised beds in the community garden she manages (see photo at right). “They work so well, I pulled out my lumber raised beds at home and use the blocks,” she writes. Plus, you can plant in those holes in the blocks, “adding another 30 percent of planting area to the bed,” Lynda writes. “And the blocks are wide enough that you can sit on the edge and plant seeds or pull the few weeds that come up.” As if that’s not enough, “The blocks heat up very early in the season and retain the heat, so our harvests are coming in three to five weeks earlier than before.”
Still other folks like brick for its natural clay makeup, including HOMEGROWN member Deb, who stacks her beds two bricks high. “So far, not too many problems with weeds,” she writes. For a longer conversation, revisit this HOMEGROWN discussion on raised-bed building materials.

CONSTRUCTING YOUR RAISED BED: DETERMINING HEIGHT/DEPTH

The general shape of your bed or beds depends on your available space and what you plan to plant inside them, although sticking to a width of 4 feet or narrower ensures that you’ll be able to reach into the bed’s center from either side. (Remember all of those benefits of uncompacted soil? No walking!) But how tall—or how deep, depending on how you look at it—should your raised bed be? You guessed it: It depends.
If you’ll be growing root vegetables, Rachel cautions against anything less than 8 inches and prefers more like 12 to 16. “Carrots, unless you are growing the short, stubby ones, must have deep soil, as do other root veggies, including beets, since root systems can go as far as 2 feet down,” she writes.
Other edibles don’t need as much depth. You can transplant tomato seedlings, for example, by stripping off the lowest leaves and laying the roots and the bottom part of the plant laterally in the bed before covering them with soil. “Practically all the vegetable crops you could grow in a raised bed will only set roots down to 6 inches or so, anyway,” with the notable exception of corn, writes HOMEGROWN member Trell. “Rule of thumb: If the plant will not blow over if planted directly in the ground, it will not blow over in a raised bed, either.” For more on the depth question, read through this past discussion.
Raised beds certainly aren’t one size fits all, but for one clear example, we like Erik’s blueprint. “Earlier this spring I installed a new 4′ x 8′ x 11″ raised bed,” he writes. “I used two courses of 2″ x 6″ x 8′ smooth-finished red cedar lumber. I cut lap joints in the corners, which is a strong joint for this application. I reinforced the rails against bowing using 12″ galvanized spikes drilled 16″ OC, the heads of which serve as the basis for affixing PVC tubing to form a frame.
“I think 11 inches will satisfy all of my growing needs, and I prefer the added depth over what I might get using a single course of 2″ x 8″ or 2″ x 10″ lumber. I learned a lot building my bed and would make one minor modification were I to do it again, namely, to drill and spike the lap joints themselves.”
Those are two of Erik’s beds, pictured above right. “These two raised beds now grace a suburban front yard,” he writes. “Each bed holds approximately 1 cubic yard of soil, and both were planted and growing the day they were installed.”

PLANS TO STEAL

• For a great set of instructions, check out these step-by-step plans, courtesy of HOMEGROWN member Powered by Tofu.
• Help! We want more blueprints! Got a raised bed design you’re willing to share? Post it in the comments section below, and we’ll add a link. Thanks!

FILLING YOUR RAISED BED: SOIL MIX AND MAINTENANCE

After you’ve spent time and effort building your bed, you’ll want to fill it will an equally well-considered and well-balanced soil mix. If you’re buying soil, be sure to look for organic labeling and supplement it as you would otherwise with compost or compost tea.
As with planting directly in the ground, you can use season extenders—such as row covers, low tunnels, cold frames (no HOMEGROWN 101 yet, but Mother Earth News shares these free plans), and hoop houses (including this $30 model)—to lengthen your grow time.
Whether or not you eek extra weeks out of the growing season, for best results come spring, you will want to cover your beds once you’re done growing for the year. A blanket of organic matter will protect your precious soil from the elements during those chilly winter months.
After watching the soil in her friends’, neighbors’, and her own raised beds compact and degrade over the years, HOMEGROWN member Charlyn came up with a solution: Set a chicken coop on top of her raised bed during the winter and let the fallout soiled straw—and its blend of nitrogen and organic matter—infuse the dirt below.
“It was transformative,” Charlyn writes. “Sunflowers grew 8 feet high. No more yellow plants! Fewer slugs and pill bugs!” Even better? Soiled straw and raked leaves. “Over the winter, they slowly rotted down, adding to the organic matter.”
Below is her step-by-step plan for soil maintenance, starting in early October, when she puts her beds to, well, bed:

  • Pile leaves on every bed.
  • Place the chicken tractor on the first empty bed.
  • Toss down straw and poop every week.
  • Move the coop about every three weeks.
  • Turn the bed lightly after the coop has been moved.
  • Add ash from the fireplace whenever possible.
  • Plant in the bed, usually under a cold frame, in the spring.
  • Toss a handful of Bio-fish in with every plant.
  • Mulch with straw or more leaves in the summer, after the plants are planted.

For more, check out Charlyn’s full post on raised-bed soil maintenance. And for another natural soil amendment, two words: rabbit poop.
Some HOMEGROWN members have taken simpler routes. Janine covered her beds with three inches of wood chips (see photo at right), which she salvaged from her town’s compost facility. Other folks opt for other types of mulch or even just leaf litter raked up from the yard. Read more about mulching—or growing garlic, yet another wintertime option—in the Garden Winterizing 101.
Before you know it, spring will be back again, and you’ll start the whole wonderful cycle over, from selecting seeds to starting seedlings to—well, keep reading.

WHAT TO PLANT IN YOUR BED AND HOW TO CARE FOR IT

You’ve got beds. You’ve got soil. Now, what can you grow? Here’s the fun part: Pretty much any and every veggie or herb is suitable for a raised bed, as well as many berries, flowers, and more. Hooray!
In fact, in most aspects, planting and tending veggies in a raised bed isn’t that different from planting directly in the ground. As with in-ground planting, you can succession plant in raised beds. Scratch that: You should succession plant in raised beds. Also as with planting in ground, you should rotate what you plant in a given bed from year to year; that is, don’t overtax your soil by planting tomatoes in the same spot for three years running. Raised beds are especially friendly to many methods of intensive gardening, from French intensive to square foot gardening.
For more on how to grow specific crops, check out HOMEGROWN 101s on growing lettuce, broccoli, peas, radishes, collards, and garlic. If you’re planning a school or community garden, don’t miss the Edible Gardens for Kids 101, featuring a list of the top five to plant with pint-size growers to get them pumped about good food.
As for watering, sure, you can do it by hand, but there are some handy tricks out there for self-watering raised beds, including homemade ollas. And if you’re feeling especially frisky, you can make like Rachel and install your own drip irrigation system. Got another idea? We can’t wait to hear what you dream up next.

SPEAK UP!

Got a question about raised beds you’d like to put to your fellow HOMEGROWN sistren and brethren? Or a technique you’d like to share? Or a correction to make? Post it below and keep the conversation growing. (We’ll make sure to incorporate any key tips into the 101.) And just a quick recap of the other 101s mentioned above:
Container Gardening 101 | Garden Planning 101 | | Soil Testing 101 | Composting 101 | Compost Tea 101 | Raising Rabbits 101 | Growing Lettuce 101 | Growing Broccoli 101 | Growing Peas 101 | Growing Radishes 101 | Growing Collards 101 | Growing Garlic 101 | Edible Gardens for Kids 101 | Homemade Ollas 101 | Drip Irrigation System | Hoop Houses 101 | Even Cheaper Hoop Houses 101 | Garden Winterizing 101 | Selecting Seeds 101 | Starting Seeds 101
You can always find more things to plant, grow, make, craft, cook, and preserve in the HOMEGROWN 101 library. Happy gardening, everyone!

How to Grow Zucchini and Other Summer Squash

Summer squash is one of the most bountiful vegetables you can grow in your backyard. A 5-foot row alone can yield 10 pounds! This crop grows very quickly in warm weather, so be sure to check on your garden daily. With the right care and growth tips, this ever-popular vegetable will be an abundant favorite in your garden.

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Varieties of Squash

How to Plant Squash

If space is limited, choose bush varieties only, or grow squash vertically on a trellis or wire. Prepare the bed with compost, peat, or well-rotted manure, then add commercial fertilizer. Plant squash in hills or clusters when the soil warms, spacing six seeds about 2 inches apart. A common misconception is that the soil must be mounded, but this is a matter of choice. The advantage of raised hills is that, like raised beds, they drain well and dry out quickly. Space the hills about 6 feet apart. In cool, wet areas, mulch with clear or black plastic.

Squash Care

When the seedlings emerge, thin them to three healthy plants per hill. Apply a thick organic mulch around the plants if you are not using black or clear plastic. Water plants regularly. Use drip irrigation if possible; otherwise, flood the bases of plants with water to avoid mildew. Side-dress with fertilizer every 10 days for healthy growth. If vines get out of hand, snip the growing tips to encourage lateral branching.

Watch for borers, cucumber beetles, and squash bugs. Kill them with an insect control product approved for use on vegetables. Destroying cucumber beetles will help prevent bacterial wilt, one of the worst diseases in the squash patch.

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Harvesting Squash

Summer squash develops quickly, so check fruits daily as they begin to form. Though certainly edible when large, summer squash tastes better and is tenderer when harvested while still small. Cut off zucchini and straightnecks when they are only a few inches long, and pattypans when no larger than a quarter. Harvest all fruits whether you can eat them or not. Give away or compost what you can’t use. If you allow fruits to ripen on the plants, they give off a hormone that causes the plants to shrivel and die. Constant picking also stimulates increased production. Flowers of summer squash are edible. Choose the male flowers (those without small squashes developing at their bases; plants produce male flowers first).

Allow winter squash, on the other hand, to mature completely before picking it. Wait until the stems begin to dry and wither. Cut the fruits from the vines, leaving an inch or two attached to each squash. Do not carry squash by these stems. Place the squash (except acorn squash) in a sunny, dry location for several days, then move it inside to a warm, dry area for several weeks. This curing process allows the shells of the fruits to harden. Store them in a dark room at temperatures between 55 and 60 degrees. Store acorn squash, which can be eaten young or mature, according to taste, in cool temperatures from the start.

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Breeding Zucchini

To develop a zucchini that has specific desired qualities, we suggest pollinating selected plants by hand and excluding pollinating insects, then harvesting the resulting zucchini. Start by removing the petals from a male zucchini flower. Hold the fully exposed stamen like a paintbrush and coat a female flower on the selected zucchini plant with pollen. Staple a small pollination bag shut over the flower to keep out pollinators.

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Are you looking for the best tricks for growing great zucchini in your garden?

Zucchini is growing more and more popular in home gardens and on tables due to its versatility in meals. Zucchini is not only a veggie anymore.
It’s a pasta. A french fry. Dessert. Salad.
The possibilities are endless with zucchini. Mix it with anything and you’ll have a delicious and nutritious meal. So, how to grow more of it that you can preserve to enjoy all year around?
In this post, I will

  • Uncover my best tricks for growing great zucchini
  • Discuss a proper growing season for zucchini
  • And cover some zucchini growing problems you might face

Every season, I keep the same zucchini plants producing for almost 2 months! And now, I’m sharing exactly what I did to do that with you. Keep on reading.

Which Types of Zucchini?

What’s the best zucchini to grow? Choose a zucchini variety that grows well in your area. In my area, a very temperate zone of 6a in Kansas, I have two types that grow very well. They include:

  • Eldorado (Yellow Variety)
  • Sunburst (Yellow Variety)
  • Several types of green.

The best way to choose variety type is to just check your local garden stores. Or talk to someone from your local farmers market or garden club. They will definitely know which varieties to pick from.

Prepare for the Growing Season for Zucchini

The first thing that needs to be considered for soil is good soil. Zucchini will do well in any well-draining soil but they do require water regularly. So, make sure the zucchini bed is near by some water.
Another thing to consider is where zucchini was planted before. You want to rotate that spot if possible in order to prevent squash bugs from taking over your plants. So, simply plant your zucchini in a totally different spot, bed or container.
Also, zucchini plants love full sun but will take some shade as well. A little bit of shade during the day will keep the leaves and squash skin from burning during the heat of summer.
One more thing about the soil – The more nutritive the soil, the better the plants will perform for you. We generally apply our own livestock fertilizer in the fall after the growing season is over. Or before. However you want to look at it. We let that sit in the ground and let the moisture from winter soak it into the ground.
Then, in the spring, we work the soil where it will be nice and fluffy. Finally, make some hills and plant. I’ll talk about planting in the next section.

When to Plant

But first, don’t plant zucchini too early! Zucchini is a warm season crop that must be planted after all danger of frost has passed.
Here in Kansas, I like to plant zucchini in May. I direct seed into the hills and then water well.
Another really good time to plant zucchini is late July/early August for a good Fall crop. Note that this crop will need to be harvested before the first frost of Fall.

Zucchini Plant Spacing

Focus on learning how to grow zucchini from seed. Direct seed has been known to be much more effective than planting transplants.
Squash seeds are planted into small “hills” of topsoil. Simply take a hoe and maneuver fluffy soil to make a nice little hill wide enough to plant about 5 seeds per hill.
Plant squash seeds about two feet apart. Make hills at least 3 feet apart from each other. And keep in mind that these plants will expand. You might want to consider growing zucchini vertically if you need the space. But what’s more important than that is that the squash canopy (leaves) stay nice and green and healthy.
Let’s talk about the care of those plants.

Care Through the Season

Zucchini plants are pretty hardy and self-sufficient. However, there are a few care tips you can do to make sure your zucchini plants are producing for months. Yes. I said MONTHS!!
The first is making sure weeds stay clean. This is so the plants don’t have any competition at all in their hills. Weeds compete with squash plants, making shallow cultivation essential, especially early in the season. You can use black plastic mulch like this for warmer soil and weed control. Apply the plastic first, cut holes in the plastic and then plant the seeds.
If you don’t want to use black plastic as a mulch, use straw or organic matter instead.
Also, watering at the ground level is a great way to keep canopy healthy. Once the squash plants are growing strong, there’s not need for a lot of watering. They are pretty tolerant of drier soil conditions but you’ll want to make sure they have water at least once per week.
Finally, understand that squash plants need proper pollination. Like cucumber plants, squash plants have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. Therefore, honey bees and bumble bees are required to transfer pollen from flower to flower. Note that male flowers will appear first but the female flowers are the ones that produce the actual zucchini.
To get started with beekeeping, read here.

Harvest Time

Ok, now with good care and support, here’s where the magic happens. Yes, that magic of keeping plants producing for months. My zucchini plants produced for over two months last season using all of these tips I’m giving you today.
How cool is that? Here’s some harvest tips for ya as a bonus for best tricks for growing great zucchini.
First of all, zucchini is generally harvested at a tender stage before skin and seeds have toughened. Typical size is 6-10 inches long.
Also, keep in mind that regular harvest checks is important. Those zucchini babies develop super fast, so check every single day! They can be stored in a cool location for 1-2 weeks.
So, I think I’ve made growing zucchini sound super easy and flawless. Well, here are some problems you might face as you learn how to grow zucchini.

Potential Zucchini Growing Problems

Zucchini has the reputation of producing. And producing. And producing.
There’s actually jokes that you can’t give zucchini away near seasons end. That’s when you know the season is over. But, there are several potential problems that could be a cause for why your zucchini plants may not be producing.

Zucchini flowers but no fruit

You might be seeing lots of flowers but no little zucchinis yet. Well, that’s because you might just be seeing the male buds. Remember that there are male and female flowers that need to be pollinated in order to make zucchini babies.
The males produce the pollen for female flowers that have the tiny squash behind them. Typically, the male flowers appear first and contain the pollen. So the solution to this is to wait. Bees come in and spread the pollen to the female flowers and after that, you’ll see some zucchini.

Zucchini fruit set but rot

Do your little zucchinis look like they have some rot on them? Gross.
But, in reality, it’s because of rainy weather and damp conditions. If zucchinis are sitting on the ground in the water and mud for a lengthy period of time, they are going to start to decay.
To prevent this, use mulch as I mentioned above. You can also try to keep the zucchinis off the ground by the use of a cage or trellis.

Squash Bugs

Oh, these little bugs that are fun to squash. These bugs are grayish black and orange. They attack squash plants by the hundreds, sucking the sap and nourishment from the plants, which results in the collapse of the vines.
There are a couple of ways to control them:

  1. Rotate squash bed locations. They tend to follow eventually, but you might be able to beat them.
  2. Monitor the plant for the presence of them and use a spray, such as Sevin, around the base of the plant and up under the leaves. Spray in the evening when the flowers close up.

Remember that control is essential for proper health of the plants. If there aren’t too many bugs, I will usually just pull them off and squish them dead in between my fingers or step on them. Just make sure they are dead.

Squash vine borer

Here’s another insect problem you might see. This one is worst than squash bugs and more difficult to control.
It lays its eggs on the main stem of the plant where it emerges from the ground. Then, the eggs hatch and the larvae bores into the stem. The insect develops into a large, dirty white grub-like larvae.
So, what does it do? Well, it destroys the vascular system of the plant. Once the plant collapses, there is no control. So, what to do?
Start preventative insecticide soon after the plant has emerged. You can use certain organic methods or conventional, like Sevin. Apply in the evenings when the blooms are closed every couple of weeks for the best control targeted in the plant’s main stem.
There are always options, but one thing is clear. If you have problems, you must provide proactive control. If you don’t, you won’t have zucchini at all.
And how sad would that be?

What To Do With All That Zucchini??

By following these best tricks for growing great zucchini, you’ll more than likely have a ton of it to do something with. I love eating zucchini in all different ways.
Some of my favorite ways include:

  • Zucchini Brownies – Get My Recipe Here
  • Zucchini Skillet Meal – Get My Recipe Here
  • Zoodles

So, that’s it! I truly hope you have a great zucchini growing season and produce plenty of zucchini to your liking.
If you liked this post about the best tricks to growing great zucchini, check these out:

~ Much Love ~

Make Gardening Simple Now!

Simple gardening equals smart gardening. In this short, easy to read book, you’ll get access to all the best practices and tips for gardening smarter and more successfully. If you want more information, I’ll send it right to your email inbox!

Using yellow instead of green zucchini in vegetable soup

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Zucchini is a summer squash that grows best in places with warm weather. It is easy to grow and is commonly found in Mexico and Central America. This fruit has a refreshing flavor that is perfect for the summer season. If you are getting bored with the leafy vegetables in your salad, you can make a zucchini salad instead and share it with your friends.

There are various types of zucchinis to choose from. The most popular are costata romanesco, tatume, golden zucchini, and yellow crooknecks. They come in different sizes and colors so consider these two things when choosing the kind of zucchini that you will put in your salad.

Aside from salads, zucchini is also added in soups, frittatas, and as a side dish. Since this fruit is very versatile, you can experiment with it to create unique dishes that even your kids would love.

The Health Benefits of Zucchini

If zucchini is your favorite summer squash, then you know just how tasty it can be and the flavor that it adds to recipes. However, do you know that it is loaded with health benefits? Once you discover these benefits, you will be tempted to keep a stock of zucchini in your pantry!

It can lower your blood sugar.

Eating delicious food is one of the things that everyone wants to enjoy. However, when you have diabetes or high blood sugar levels, you must be very careful about the food that you eat. To have a healthier diet, you can try including zucchini in your recipes. This would allow you to have a higher amount of fiber intake. It would let you feel full longer than usual. This means that you would be able to eat less every day.

It can improve your digestion.

The high water and fiber content of zucchini help your digestive system. In fact, it can reduce constipation and other issues in your digestive system.

Treat your puffy eyes.

If you’re looking for a quick solution for your puffy eyes, get two slices of raw zucchini and place them over your eyes for 30 minutes. Repeat this several times throughout the day, and you will see amazing results.

Gives you extra energy

Are you going to have a long day ahead? Having a healthy breakfast can give you that extra boost of energy so that you can perform at school or work better. Zucchini has a sufficient amount of B-vitamins that would allow your body to produce more energy. It can also improve your mood and your brain’s functioning.

Best Zucchini Substitutes

Zucchini offers a lot of health benefits, and it can be used in a lot of recipes. However, there might be times when you will run out of zucchinis in your pantry, and you badly need it now for your recipe. Don’t worry, because there are zucchini substitutes that you can use instead. Here are some of them!

Eggplant

You might find it difficult to find zucchini when you’re in Asian countries. While zucchini can be bought in grocery stores, it might not be readily available in smaller Asian stores or wet markets. In such cases, you will be thrilled that you can substitute zucchini with eggplant. The best kind to use is an Asian eggplant since it has the right size and texture. European eggplants have a tough skin that might not be as ideal when you’re looking for a zucchini substitute.

Eggplants are also quite flavorful so you don’t have to worry too much about how your recipe will turn out when you use this substitute. Just like zucchinis, eggplants are also full of vitamins and nutrients that can help you fight health conditions such as diabetes and anemia. Eggplants are great substitutes because they are closely similar to zucchinis and widely available.

Yellow Squash

Another best substitute for zucchini is its fellow summer squash. You can substitute zucchini with yellow squash when you just can’t seem to find zucchini in your local grocery store. Yellow squashes have a crookneck and could be easily used as substitutes for your recipe. You can use zucchini and yellow squash interchangeably in your recipe, but it would also be best if you mix them to give a splash of color to your dish.

Using yellow squash as a substitute is also beneficial to your health. It has really low cholesterol which is great for those who want to reduce their fat intake significantly. It’s also a good source of beta-carotene and lutein. Having these antioxidants shields your body from getting damaged by free radicals and from eye issues such as cataracts.

Because zucchini and yellow squash come are both in the summer squash family, some people may think that they are exactly the same. But zucchini and yellow squash still have differences. Nevertheless, you can still achieve that flavorful dish when you use any one of these two summer squashes.

Chayote Squash

Chayote squash is a popular vegetable in some Asian and Latin countries. This vegetable doesn’t have the same shape as zucchini, but it is also nutritious and delicious. The good thing about chayote is that it doesn’t have a lot of seeds, so it’s easier to work with. It has a mild and sweet flavor and a slight taste that is similar to cucumber.

As for the health benefits of chayote, it has a lot of the same vitamins and nutrients that you will find in other squashes like yellow squash and zucchini. It’s also a good source of trace minerals. These minerals strengthen your bones, improves your immune system, as well as your metabolism. By giving your body, these trace minerals allows it to be in good condition which helps you to do your everyday tasks properly.

Patty Pan

If you are up for a challenge, it can be a lot of fun to substitute zucchini with patty pan. This vegetable is also a squash family member. However, unlike yellow squash and zucchini, patty pans have a round and slightly flat shape. It comes in 3 colors which are green, yellow, and white. While patty pans are not the best substitutes, they can still be great options because of their texture that is similar to zucchinis.

The best way to cook this kind of squash is by baking and frying. So if you are planning on baking your dish, patty pan is an excellent addition to your recipe. But if you want something fresh and healthier, eating it raw is still the best. You can add this into your salad bowl instead of zucchinis! It’s going to be fast and easy to prepare since you don’t need to peel this vegetable. Just make sure to trim the ends and wash it before eating or putting it into your recipe. After using your patty pans as zucchini substitutes, you can explore further and cook various recipes to enjoy the flavor of this squash more!

Pumpkin

Do you want to make zucchini bread and other zucchini recipes during the winter season? If yes, you might find it difficult to find this vegetable in the cold months. But don’t worry because you can still have your cravings by substituting it with pumpkin.

Some people might think that pumpkins are just for Halloween decorations. But according to studies, this vegetable can give you powerful health benefits. It’s also a versatile cooking ingredient. You can use it for soups, preserves, desserts, salads, and as a substitute for zucchini and butter.

Adding pumpkin to your diet all year round is a great idea. It contains beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. But what makes it an even better substitute are the similar texture and flavor that it has to zucchini especially when you try using it in your zucchini bread recipe.

Cucumber

For those who want to substitute zucchini with another vegetable for their salad recipe, cucumber might be the best choice. This is a popular ingredient in salads because of its fresh and juicy flavor. It’s also widely available in most countries so you won’t have much trouble looking for this vegetable.

The unique flavor of cucumber might be distinct from zucchini’s taste, but it would certainly give a new twist for your dishes. However, it’s important to note that cucumber is juicier than zucchini.

The Bottom Line

Zucchini is a favorite vegetable during the summer. It is flavorful, healthy, and is a very versatile ingredient to your dishes. You can prepare it for your summer picnics, or even as an appetizer for your dinner party. Unfortunately, there might be times when it’s extremely difficult to get this vegetable. In such cases, there are substitutes that you can use to complete your recipe.

Since zucchini is a part of the squash family, other squashes would be perfect to be your substitute. Some of them are the yellow squash, eggplant, and the other substitutes included in this list. Before using a substitute, some of the things that you should consider are the texture, flavor, color, and even the nutritional value that the vegetable contains.

Yellow Zucchini, Summer Squash ‘Easy Pick Gold’ (Cucurbita pepo)

Planting Instructions

Select a sunny site, away from trees and close to a water source if possible.
Prepare the garden by breaking up the existing soil (use a hoe, spade, or power tiller) to a depth of 12-16” (30-40cm). Add organic matter such as manure, peat moss or garden compost until the soil is loose and easy to work. Organic ingredients improve drainage, add nutrients, and encourage earthworms and other organisms that help keep soil healthy. Give plants an extra boost by adding a granulated fertilizer formulated for vegetables or and all-purpose feed (such as a fertilizer labeled 5-10-5).
Remove the plant from the container. If plants are in a pack, gently squeeze the outside of the individual plant cell while tipping container to the side. If plant doesn’t loosen, continue pressing on the outside of the container while gently grasping the base of the plant and tugging carefully so as not to crush or break the stem until the plant is released. If the plant is in a pot, brace the base of the plant, tip it sideways and tap the outside of the pot to loosen. Rotate the container and continue to tap, loosening the soil until the plant pulls smoothly from the pot.
Dig the hole up to two times larger than the root ball and deep enough that the plant will be at the same level in the ground as the soil level in the container. Grasping the plant at the top of the root ball, use your finger to lightly rake apart the lower roots apart. This is especially important if the roots are dense and have filled up the container. Set the plant in the hole.
Check the plant label for suggested spacing and the mature height of the plant. Position plants so that taller plants are in the center or background of the garden and shorter plants in the foreground.
Plan ahead for plants that get tall and require staking or support cages. It’s best to install cages early in the spring, at planting time, before the foliage gets bushy. Vining vegetables can occupy a lot of space, so provide a trellis, fence, or other structure that allows the plant to grow vertically to maximize garden space.

Watering Instructions

Ideally water should only be applied to the root zone – an area roughly 6-12” (15-30cm) from the base of the plant, not the entire plant. A soaker hose is a great investment for keeping plants healthy and reducing water lost through evaporation. Hand watering using a watering wand with a sprinkler head attached is also a good way to control watering. If the garden area is large, and a sprinkler is necessary, try to water in the morning so that plant foliage has time to dry through the day. Moist foliage encourages disease and mold that can weaken or damage plants.
Thoroughly soaking the ground every 2-3 days is better than watering a little bit daily. Deep watering encourages roots to grow further into the ground resulting in a sturdier plant with more drought tolerance. How often to water will depend on rainfall, temperature and how quickly the soil drains.
To check for soil moisture use your finger or a small trowel to dig in and examine the soil. If the first 2-4” (5-10cm) of soil is dry, it is time to water.

Fertilizing Instructions

A well prepared planting bed enriched with organic matter such as compost or manure and a mild general-purpose, granulated fertilizer gets plants off to a good start. Give plants a boost later in the season with a fertilizer formulated for vegetables.
Fertilizers are available in many forms: granulated, slow-release, liquid feeds, organic or synthetic. Follow the package directions to determine how much, and how often, to feed.
Be sure to keep the garden well-weeded. Weeds take vital moisture and nutrients away from the vegetable plants.

Pruning Instructions

There are several reasons to prune vegetable plants: to help contain a plant’s size, to promote bushy compact growth, to remove dead or diseased stems, and to promote larger, healthier fruit yields.
Flower buds can be pinched off to force the plant energy into fewer fruits that develop faster.
Vining plants can become invasive in a confined garden space. If necessary, entire vines can be removed down to the main stem to keep plants under control.
Never prune away more than 1/3 of the plant or it may become weak and unproductive.
Remove vegetables as soon as they mature. Leaving them on the plant any longer than necessary can affect flavor and texture, and mature fruit steals energy from younger developing fruits.

Courgette Easy Pick Gold F1

Self pollinating fruit with a spinless habit so picking is a cinch and even more so as the fruit is simply twisted off the main plant. A perfect candidate for container growing. A true Courgette flavour begging to be eaten.

How to Grow Courgettes, Pumpkins, Marrows and Squash

Squashes, Courgettes, Marrows and Pumpkins are all members of the same family and are classified as either summer or winter squash. Squashes come in all shaped and sizes, from massive pumpkins to tiny patty pan squashes.

Summer squash has a thinner skin and is quicker to mature than winter squash: some varieties can be picked as early as 50 days after planting. Summer squashes include zucchini or courgettes and marrows. Begin harvesting courgettes when the young fruits reach 10cm long. Picking young fruits encourages the development of more fruits. Leaving the fruits to reach 20-25cm produces a Marrow. To test the ripeness of the Marrow push your thumbnail into the surface near the stalk, if this is easy it is ripe for picking.

Winter squash are large, thick skinned and slow growing: their fruit may take from 80 to 120 days to fully mature. In general, the larger the fruit, the longer the time to harvest. Winter squash include butternuts and pumpkins. Winter squash should not be cut until the skin is rock hard.

All squash are warm-weather plants that require protection from frost.

Squash seeds will germinate best at temperatures of 70° F (21° C) or higher. Ideally squash seed should be sown individually in 3 inch pots, two weeks after last frost.

In the UK, late May to early June is the best time to move plants outside, where they can grow on and mature in pots and containers, grow-bags or in beds. The amount of spacing required varies, but a good rule of thumb is to allow 36-60 inches (90-150cm) per plant.

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