Zucchini is one of the most productive warm season crops that you can grow at home. These plants produce an abundance of edible flowers and fruit which can be used in a range of dishes from savory to sweet.
Zucchini goes by many names, including Courgette, Squash, Marrow and Summer Squash. This annual vine produces very large distinctive green leaves, with some cultivars boasting a display of silvery/white patterned leaves that are absolutely stunning. The plants grow into a large compact bush and as the season progresses they begin to sprawl out in a vine like manner, reaching up to 3m in length.
Being a warm season crop, Zucchini is best planted in spring to grow right throughout the summer months. It grows best in deep, well-draining soil that has been enriched with organic matter such as compost and manure. In order to grow to its full potential, Zucchini requires a full sun position with plenty of room to spread. Seeds can be direct sown into your veggie patch once the risk of frost has passed.
Zucchini plants are heavy feeders, requiring a monthly feed of organic fertilizer. They also benefit from a regular application of a seaweed-based solution to keep them in good health and producing well. Keep your plants well watered, particularly during hot weather and mulch the soil to retain moisture. Watering at the base of the plant is crucial in preventing the onset of fungal problems such as powdery mildew.
Zucchini plants produce both male and female flowers which require pollination in order to produce fruit. It’s beneficial to have some flowering plants close by to your Zucchini to attract pollinators. The fruits are best harvested when they are young, at approximately 25cm in length, this is when they are most tender and at their best in flavor. Harvest the fruit regularly as they can very quickly get away from you, growing up to a few inches each day.
Zucchini is very versatile in the kitchen. It's great for stuffing, roasting, grilling, sauteing and grating into meals to hide from fussy eaters. Zucchini Fritters are always a crowd favourite, while zoodles are often used as a low-carb alternative to noodles. Zucchinis also make for a useful ingredient in cakes and muffins as their subtle sweetness and ability to hold moisture works to produce the most decadent treats.
After growing Zucchini, you will very quickly find yourself searching high and low for creative ways to use them due to the incredible amount of fruit that is produced. By the end of the season, you may be glad not to see another Zucchini for a while!