Vegetable Gardening

10 Tips for Growing Great Zucchini

Today I harvested the first season’s Zucchini! I was unexpectedly called out of town this weekend, and when I returned, I was blessed with two days of growth, including THIS big, honking, green fellow:

Lovely sight, right?

When you’re out there every morning, braless and sipping your cup of coffee, or tucking each edible into bed in the evening, you don’t notice the gradual growth. It’s like anything else you interact with daily: you don’t see how quickly your children are growing, and you don’t always notice a person’s weight gain or weight loss until you’ve had the opportunity to step away.

This was a particularly proud moment for me, and I fully attribute the success to my method of pruning squash and zucchini plants to increase airflow and attract beneficial bugs. I completed these foliage cutbacks two weeks before, and now I’m literally seeing the fruits of my labor.

I’m an educator at heart, and it’s my goal to share my experience within this blog, so I’d like to lay out the things I’ve learned growing fruit and vegetables on our half-acre homestead.

10 tips for Growing Zucchini

Growing zucchini from seed is relatively easy and super rewarding. Seriously, just look at my happy face!

If I can do it, you can do it. Here are my basic steps:

  1. Choose a sunny spot: Zucchinis need full sun to grow and produce good yields. Choose a spot in your garden that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.
  2. Prepare the soil: Zucchinis prefer well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Add compost or well-rotted manure to the soil before planting to improve its fertility. We create our own using Mel’s mix, a rock-solid blend of Vermiculite, Peat Moss, and Organix Compost. This provides the necessary balance of water retention and drainage that zucchini need to grow nice and plump.
  3. Plant the seeds: Direct sow! That’s a question I get asked often. Zucchini does not transplant well, so ensure you’re two weeks past your last frost, and plant the zucchini seeds about one inch deep and two to three feet apart. These babies are going to spread, so follow these guidelines to avoid future problems. If you don’t know the average date of your last frost, check out ye olde Farmer’s Almanac’s frost date generator. Also, just check out the Almanac in general. You’ll seriously organize your life around it.
  4. Water the seeds: This seems obvious, but you really do need to keep the soil moist yet not waterlogged. Mel’s Mix, or another combination of nicely draining soil, will also help. Water regularly, especially during dry bouts. If possible, water in the mornings before the sun is fully up. This will reduce potential fungi that can creep out in the night while the foliage is damp.
  5. Thin the seedlings: I know it’s painful to pinch off plants after you’ve agonized over their growth, but it’s necessary. Once the zucchini seedlings have grown a few inches tall, thin them out, so they are spaced about three to four feet apart. Look for stronger seedlings. The ones with thicker stalks. Those are the ones you want to keep. The rest can go in the compost.
  6. Provide support: Zucchini plants can grow quite large and heavy, so it’s a good idea to provide them with some support. You can use stakes or cages to support the plants as they grow.
  7. Fertilize: Zucchini plants are heavy feeders, so you may want to fertilize them every few weeks with a balanced fertilizer. I am a HUGE fan of the entire Garden-Tone line. Seriously, Garden-Tone, if you’re reading this, I want to be an affiliate. For all our vegetables, I use the 3-4-4 Organic Fertilizer for Vegetables and Herbs.
  8. Maintenance: Get in there and cut back those crowding leaves. You’ll find the plant shoots out a canopy of huge leaves on top, and several small leaves on the bottom. It also encroaches upon the space of other plants. You want to avoid this overcrowding to reduce powdery mildew and other garden nasties, but mostly you really want to make sure your pollinators spot those bright yellow flowers.

You may also have to hand-pollinate your flowers. Flowers contain 3 main parts: the petal, the stamen, and the pistil. We know what petals are, but stamen and pistil are essentially flower private parts.

The stamen is the male reproductive part of the flower. It consists of a slender stalk called the filament, and a pollen-producing structure at the top called the anther. When the pollen is mature, it is released from the anther and can be carried to the pistil by insects, wind, or other means.

The pistil is the female reproductive part of the flower. It consists of three main parts: the stigma, the style, and the ovary. The stigma is the sticky surface at the top of the pistil, which captures pollen grains. The style is a long, slender tube that connects the stigma to the ovary, which contains one or more ovules. When a pollen grain lands on the stigma, it sends a pollen tube down the style to the ovary, where fertilization can occur.

These three parts of the flower work together to facilitate pollination and reproduction. Pollinators are attracted by the colorful petals, and when they land on the flower, they may inadvertently transfer pollen from one flower to another. The male stamen produces pollen, which can then be transported to the female pistil for fertilization, resulting in the production of seeds and new plants.

I first hand-pollinated when my Gardening Guru, Michelle, walked me through the process as we poked around her pumpkin patch. Check it out on her channel: Michelle in the Meadow.

  1. Harvest: Zucchinis are ready to harvest when they are six to eight inches long. Cut the fruit off the plant with a sharp knife or pruning shears. In the case of this photo, I stuck my hand in there to admire my monster zuch and it popped right off! Looks like I’ll be busting out my spiralizer tonight.
  2. Repeat steps 7, 8, and 9: If you continue to prune away crowding leaves, hand pollinating your open flowers, and harvesting regularly, you’ll be flush with zucchini until the temperatures drop. In climates like mine (Zone 9a), you can ensure a continuous harvest from Spring to mid-Fall.

Fun Facts About Zucchini:

  1. Zucchinis are nutrient-rich! In fact, they contain MORE potassium than a single banana.
  2. In other countries, Zucchini goes by different names. These include Courgette in Britain, Ireland, and France. Other countries, like South Africa, call them Small Marrow or Baby Marrow.
  3. The longest Zucchini on record was grown in Niagara Falls, it was 8 foot 3.3 inches, and the heaviest Zucchini in the world weighed 115 pounds!
  4. Zucchinis are incredible for skin health! The lutein in them reduces inflammation and is often used to treat sunburns.


Amber is a writer, educator, suburban homesteader, and mother of two, documenting her efforts to create a more self-sufficient and sustainable future.

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