Zucchini is probably one of the most underestimated vegetables ever. Kids try to stay as far away as possible while for adults, it’s always the second or third option for cooking. Even in the grocery list, zucchini is written at the bottom somewhere. It’s a true but sad fact. But what is also true is that zucchini is one the most adaptable vegetables out there. Whether you boil, bake, grill, or fry it, each time it would come out tasting completely different and totally fantastic. Even in liquid form, you would find that zucchini is second to none. Zucchini cocktails are some of the most ordered drinks at restaurants while zucchini shakes pack a powerful punch for people looking to increase their muscle mass. Zucchini also have a longer shelf life than most vegetables and fruits. Meaning that even if all your vegetables rot because of poor storage or harsh temperatures you will at least have zucchini to fall back on.
Zucchini are also extraordinarily healthy. If you want to get your daily dose of Vitamin C from a vegetable instead of a fruit then you most definitely have to try zucchini because they are packed with it. They also contain Manganese, Folic Acid, Copper, Potassium, Phosphorous, Zinc, Niacin, Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, B6, B2, and Calcium. They help to lose weight rapidly but in a healthy way, prevent heart diseases and help to maintain your overall health. Doctors everywhere recommend zucchini to pregnant women because they can be an excellent nutritional source for both the mother and the child. For home gardens, it isan ideal crop because it doesn’t take that long to grow, nor do they require a lot of hard work.
There are dozens of wonderful varieties of zucchini to choose from to grow in your own home garden. Because they don’t take that long to grow, you can either plant multiple varieties of zucchini at the same time or you can wait to plant one after the other. Below is a list of some of the most popular varieties
- Aristocrat:This type of zucchini can grow to be very long and is usually dark green in color. The skin of this variety is described as almost waxy.
- Golden Zucchini: This variety is known for its beautiful golden yellow skin. What is amazing about this variety is that it keeps its brilliant color even after you cook it.
- Embassy: The embassy variety is pretty medium in size. But its plant is known for producing a lot of crop. So if you want to grow a lot of zucchini at the same time, you should probably go for this variety.
- Greyzini: This variety is quite distinctive because of its dark skin and light green stripes. This variety also matures faster than all others.
- Sweet Gourmet: This variety too is a heavy producer. Sweet gourmet is a Lebanese variety and is known for itscreamy green skin.
- Yellow Crooknecks: The fruits of this variety are heavy with a curved neck. As the name suggests, they are yellow in color and are known for its delicate sweet taste.
- Black Zucchini: They are not actually black but very dark green. The inside is pure white. Black zucchini also happens to be the most commonly sold variety of the vegetable.
2. Best Time to Grow Zucchini
Zucchini is a sun loving vegetable, meaning that it will thrive if you plant it in summer. The absolute best time to plant zucchini would be during the first few days of spring. Early or mid summer would work just as well. But try to avoid chilly weather and cross off the thought of planting them in winter. Zucchini cannot grow in cold weather and will completely decimate in frost.
Well drained soil usually works very well to promote the fast growth of zucchini. The best thing about well drained soil is that it’s still slightly moist without being completely dry. If the ground is soggy or water logged then there are chances that the crop might not grow at all. Make sure that the area you choose sees at least six to eight hours of sunlight per day. The more exposed to the sun they are, the better it would be for their growth.
4. Preparing the Soil
You have to loosen the soil a little if it’s too firm. After that you must spread a mixture of mulch and fertilizer on the ground. The perfect ratio for the fertilizer should be 10-10-10 NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium). Later mix the soil and other components thoroughly. You need to fertilize the plants once a week.
5. Using Small Zucchini Plants
You can go about planting your crop two ways. If you don’t want to wait too long then to get the zucchini, then you might want to buy small zucchini plants. They take a lot less time to grow and come half prepared. You can order them online or you can buy them from your local nursery. Simply take the plant out of its container without disturbing its contents. Dig a hole in the soil big enough to cover everything but the green parts. Dig similar holes for the rest of the plants with eight to ten inches of distance in between.
6. Using Zucchini Seeds
Some people consider planting zucchini seeds to be more fulfilling. You might have to wait a couple of weeks more to get the vegetables, but it feels worth it. You can buy zucchini seeds online or from a local grower. Dig a half inch hole in the soil and drop the seeds in. Cover the soil lightly and repeat the process with the rest of the seeds. Keep at least eight to ten inches of distance between them.
Zucchini needs a lot of water to thrive. But thankfully you don’t have to water it everyday. Watering twice a week ought to work very well. The best time to water zucchini plants would be early in the morning or late in the evening. This will allow the zucchini to retain the moisture. But be careful to water only the roots and not the upper parts of the plants. Watering the leaves or the flowers has been known to promote the growth of pests and the spread of diseases.
8. Organic Pest Control
The easiest way to eradicate zucchini plant pests would be to purchase a completely organic pesticide from the market. The organic pesticide would work on pests like Cutworms, Aphids, Spider Mites, White Flies, Squash Bugs, and Vine Borers. These pests not only attack the plant and the fruit but also spread diseases like Yellow Mosaic Virus, Downy Mildew, Bacterial Wilt and Powdery Mildew. If that happens then you might as well kiss your crop goodbye.
You also have the option of making the pesticide yourself. Use this ratio to make a large quantity: 1 Clove of Garlic, 2 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil, 1 Tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap and 2 cups of water. Boil the garlic in the water for 20 minutes. Strain the water and add the rest of the ingredients. Use a spray bottle to spread it over the crop till the pests are completely gone.
But even with these methods you have to be very careful. The fruit might rot or fall off the plant if there is no or poor pollination. Your pesticide might accidently be killing the pollinating bugs. If that is indeed the case, then you need to look at alternative methods for pest control.
If you chose to plant seeds then your crop will be ready in 5 to 7 weeks. However, if you chose small zucchini plants then your crop would be ready in about two weeks before that. You can use a knife to cut the zucchini from the stems. If some of the produce seems too small to you then you might want to give it another week before cutting it out.
One of the best things about zucchini plants is that they will keep on producing the fruits even after you harvest them. They will only stop once frost hits. You’ll know when that happens because the plant will start to wither. You can store the zucchini in a cool and dry place.
10. Zucchini Flowers
Zucchini flowers are actually completely edible. In fact they taste great with salads. When you harvest the zucchini, you can pluck out the flowers. Make sure to wash them thoroughly before eating them though. You can keep the flowers fresh for up to a week if they are put immediately inside the refrigerator. You can also create a zucchini salad and decorate it with the flowers. As mentioned before, zucchini is incredibly versatile. But it’s up to you to find creative uses for it.