How To Grow Zucchini Squash From Seeds
Growing zucchini from seed is an excellent way to get started producing vegetables in the garden. Just a few plants can supply an abundant amount for the average family. They are also great at helping to keep children interested in gardening because of how quickly the seeds start to sprout and grow. This gives the children something to concentrate on and watch while the slower plants start growing.
Zucchini can be planted from seed or from plants purchased at local nurseries. Before planting, first make sure all signs of frost have passed. Then, select an area in the garden that will get plenty of direct sunlight. Next, mix a good supply of compost into the ground to a depth of at least 6 inches. After that, place 2 to 3 seeds in hills 6 to 8 inches in diameter and 4 feet apart in rows. With a hoe, dig a small trench around each one of the hills to hold water. The same process can be used to plant started transplants as well. Simply keep the weeds removed from around the plants and keep the ground moist to grow your zucchini.
The main concern with growing zucchini is Squash bugs infestation. They will attack the base, stem and leaves of the zucchini plant. The bugs lay small brown egg capsules that are easily found on the undersides of the leaves. When they are located, simply cut away that part of the leaf and discard. Also, apply an insecticidal soap to the plants as soon as possible to prevent any further infestation. Another problem is Powdery mildew which develops on and under the leaves. It is a white powder-like substance in appearance and color. If that becomes a problem then a fungicide must be used to stop it from spreading.
How to pollinate
There are both male and female flowers on the zucchini plants. The female flower can be identified by the appearance of the small squash
directly below the flower. The male flower will be slender without any squash attached. There are a couple of ways to hand pollinate the female flower. The first is to pick one of the male flowers and remove the petals from the flower. Then, take the male stigma and rub the pollen from it directly onto the female stigma. Another way is to use a cotton swab or fine paint brush and collect the pollen on the tip of it. Then the pollen can easily be transfer to the female flower.
Zucchini can be grown in containers as well as the garden. A container at least 16 inches or more across will work fine. Some individuals
use 5 gallon buckets for this and they work very well. Make sure that the container that is used has plenty of drainage holes at the bottom. Place 3 to 5 inches of small rocks and gravel to help with drainage. A good potting soil will work well for the plants. If that isn't available or preferred, add at least 25 percent compost to the soil being used to help the container hold moisture better.
Zucchini can grow to be very large. However, the ideal size for cooking would be 8 inches in length. The larger sizes up to 10 inches can be used mainly for making baked zucchini. Anything over that size will start to get a thick skin and the seeds will become too tough to eat. Letting the zucchini grow too large also takes more energy from the plant. This will only slow down the production of the smaller sized edible zucchini.
This is one of the easiest of all garden vegetables to grow, making it an enjoyable crop for the whole family. Some people just grow zucchini as their only crop of the year. They add it to soups and salads or prepare it stir-fried or batter-fried. It can even be used to make an interesting zucchini pie or in zucchini bread. Knowing that healthy food came from the garden makes it taste even better, regardless of how it's prepared.