While zucchini is an easy-to-care plant, it still needs some help from the gardener. Here are five suggestions for ensuring a consistent harvest throughout the growing season.
01) Plant in ‘Hills’
A raised mound of soil is known as a "hill" in gardening. While you can plant zucchini in rows, hilling has several advantages: hills warm up faster early in the season, which is helpful if you want to sow seeds as soon as possible after the last chance of frost, and hills provide better drainage than flat rows.
Furthermore, planting several zucchini plants on a hill allows for better pollination. Group two to three plants close together for the best pollination, whether you buy seedlings or plant zucchini seeds directly in your garden.
You can also dig compost into the soil by hilling. Zucchini plants thrive in rich soil, and hilling provides them with an additional boost of nutrients. Make sure your plants get at least an inch of water each week.
Because zucchini flowers must be pollinated to produce viable fruit, and each female flower is only open for one day, this is critical when growing zucchini. There will be no zucchini if pollination isn't done. As a result, having multiple plants growing close together greatly improves your chances of pollination.
02) Pollination should be kept an eye on
You'll also need both male and female flowers to open simultaneously, in addition to dealing with zucchini blossoms' short lifespan. Female flowers only produce fruit. Male flowers are only present to aid pollination. At first, male flowers proliferate on newly planted zucchini plants.
When gardeners see a lot of flowers blooming but no fruits forming, it can be very frustrating. Wait a while. The plants will begin to set flowers of both sexes once they have matured a bit. And, thanks to the early male flowers, pollinating insects should be plentiful in the area. When you see tiny fruits directly behind the base of the flower, you know you've got female flowers.
You can always take pollination matters into your own hands if you're serious about your zucchini harvest. To help ensure good pollination, you should remove the male flowers and dust from the female flowers.
Transfer pollen from the male flower to the female bloom with an artist's paintbrush. Don't throw away those early male blossoms, either. Pick them up, dip them in batter, then fry them for a delicious snack.
3) Don't start your garden too soon
Frost or chilly weather is not suitable for zucchini. As a result, planting too early will not be favorable. Fruits will have pitted skin due to chilling injury, even if they originate in cold temperatures.
As a result, depending on your environment, you should wait until the soil warms up at least until mid-spring, to plant. Frost should have passed, and the temperature should be consistently above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cover your plants with row covers at night if the temperature falls below 60 degrees if you plant too early. Additionally, you can use these row coverings in the fall to lengthen your harvest.
04) Incorporate Succession Planting into your strategy
Zucchini quickly proliferates, with fruit appearing 50 to 60 days after sowing. However, because zucchini plants work so hard to produce fruit, it's only natural for production to decrease down during the growing season.
Some growers believe that the initial zucchini oversupply is sufficient. However, succession planting is the way to go if you prefer a consistent supply. To ensure a constant crop, establish new zucchini plants two to three times during the growing season, depending on your climate.
Zucchini can be easily planted from seed, and there's no need to start seeds indoors. Once your first batch of zucchini plants has matured, you can directly sow seed in your garden and expect germination in a matter of days.
In mid-July or mid-August, many gardeners perform their second planting (or both). Plantings made later in the season grow quicker than those made in the spring.
05) Squash borers should be avoided.
Zucchini is a favorite of squash vine borers. When the adults emerge from their winter hibernation in the soil in late June or early July, one of their first jobs is to lay their eggs near the base of squash plants. The larvae burrow into the plant stems and begin feeding when the eggs hatch. This blocks the flow of water via the stems, causing your lovely zucchini plants to perish soon.
Adult squash vine borers have the appearance of wasps, although they are moths. These moths, unlike most others, fly during the day and lay their eggs at the foot of vulnerable plants. If you want to avoid squash vine borers, wait until mid-July to sow zucchini.
There's no incentive for the vine borer moth to stop by and lay her eggs if you don't have any zucchini plants in your garden. Furthermore, if your soil has squash vine borers, delaying planting for a year can break the cycle of them infesting your plants.
Instead of feasting on your plants and eventually reproducing themselves, the larvae will wake up without a place to eat. Row coverings can also be used to keep adults from laying eggs on the zucchini, although hand-pollination of the blossoms is required.
However, if you truly desire early zucchini, you can use foil for this pest. A little piece of aluminum foil can be wrapped around the base of each stem. Only 2 to 4 inches of the stem where it emerges from the ground has to be covered. The larvae should not be able to chew through the foil if it is tightly wrapped.