Nothing beats eating fresh vegetables you’ve grown yourself. Not only are they delicious and nutritious, but you also feel a sense of pride in having grown something yourself.
Zucchinis are one of my favorite vegetables because they’re so versatile. You can fry them, turn them into noodles, add them to a summer salad – the list goes on. But growing zucchini can be tough when you don’t have a lot of garden space.
Apartment living is a real challenge for gardeners when it comes to space. There’s barely any room inside, let alone for a garden.
Zucchini plants in particular can get really big and sprawl all over the place. But fresh zucchini is so worth the effort it takes to squeeze it into whatever garden space you have.
One of the best ways to save space in your garden area is to grow your zucchini vertically. You can use garden stakes or a tomato cage to train your zucchini plant to wind upwards instead of out. Make sure to start your seeds a few weeks before planting and use proper drainage if using a container.
Best Method To Grow Zucchinis Vertically
Use the following guide to grow zucchini vertically and save space in whatever garden you have.
This method works whether you’re using a container or growing directly in the ground.
What You’ll Need
- Zucchini seeds
- Cardboard egg carton
- 20-gallon or larger plant container (one for each plant you want to grow)
- Rocks or pebbles (enough to cover the bottom of your container by an inch or two)
- Potting soil
- 3 long wooden garden stakes or one tomato cage per container
- Heavy-duty twine
- Plastic ties (optional)
- Gardening gloves
1. Start Your Zucchini Seeds
Cut the top off a cardboard egg carton and fill each cup with potting soil. Poke a hole in the center of each soil mound, place a seed, and cover back up the hole.
If you only want one zucchini plant, you should still start two or three seeds at once. That way you can plant them in one container to increase your chances of growing success. Start two to three seeds for every one plant you want to cultivate.
Water the soil completely and then place the egg carton indoors in a sunny area. Water every day for a few weeks until the seeds begin to sprout.
2. Harden Off Your Seedlings
Hardening off your seedlings is an important step to make sure they can tough it out once they’re outside. You have to acclimate them to being outdoors to face the wind, rain, and other harsh elements.
Start by moving your seedlings (still in their cozy egg carton) to an outdoor area that gets only indirect sunlight. Leave them for a few hours each day, and then bring them back inside.
On the fifth day, move them to a sunnier outdoor area for a few hours before bringing them back in.
Do this for one more day and your seedlings will be ready to face the outdoor world on their own. Take time to be proud of what you’ve accomplished!
3. Prepare Your Zucchini Container
While you’re waiting around for your little seedlings to toughen up, you can go ahead and prepare their long-term container. If you’re growing directly in the ground, simply add fresh soil before you plant.
A common problem with growing zucchini in a pot is lack of proper drainage. Make sure your container has at least one drainage hole in the bottom. Then, supplement this by using a layer of rocks beneath the soil.
Cover the bottom of a large container with an inch or two of rocks and pebbles. Then, cover the rocks with potting soil, filling your container about three-quarters of the way full.
Repeat for as many containers as you need for all the zucchinis you want.
4. Plant Your Seedlings
Using a pair of scissors, carefully cut each seedling cup out of the rest of the egg carton.
You’ll want to do this outside next to your zucchini container, since you’ll probably spill some soil in the process. It also just makes it easier to transfer the seedling to the container.
Poke two or three holes in the center of the container’s soil and place a seedling cup in each. You don’t even have to remove the carton part – the cardboard is biodegradable!
If you’re seeding directly into the ground and want more than one plant, be sure to give them enough space. Place your seedling groups 18 to 24 inches apart.
Cover the cups with soil until just the tops of the seedlings are poking out. Water the soil completely and make sure your container is an area that gets direct sunlight.
Note: Once one of your seedlings starts growing well, thin the rest so only the strongest one remains. This will keep your zucchinis from becoming overcrowded.
5. Build Your Vertical Supports
Here is where verticality comes into play! You can use the wooden stake method or a tomato cage to help your zucchini plants head towards the sky.
If using a tomato cage, simply stick the cage in the soil of your container until it’s sturdy. If your cage is too large for the container, don’t worry. Try flipping the cage upside down so it surrounds the outside of your pot.
If using stakes, place them into the soil at the edges of your container. Leaning them towards the middle to form a triangle, then tie the tops together with heavy-duty twine.
6. Tie Off Your Zucchini Plant As It Grows
Training a zucchini plant to grow vertically does take some more effort than just letting it grow wild. Every few days, use twine or plastic ties to tie the stalks to the stakes or tomato cage.
Start with the outer stalks first, making sure to lift the leaves, then tie off the center. Be sure not to tie your twine too tightly. You don’t want to strangle the plant you’ve worked so hard on!
That’s all there is! Continue to tie your plant to the stakes or cage as it grows. Soon you’ll have a beautiful, vertical zucchini plant to enjoy.
Helpful Tips To Help Your Zucchinis Grow
Building a vertical support for your zucchini is one thing but getting the zucchini to actually grow is another.
Here are some helpful hints on how to ensure your vertical zucchini grows to its full potential.
Know The Zucchini Season
Every plant has its own particular needs when it comes to climate and sunlight. If you don’t start your zucchini in the right season, it’s just not going to grow well, if at all.
Start off on the right foot by knowing when the best time to grow zucchini is in your area. The ideal soil temperature for zucchinis is 65-70°F. This is typically from April to June, but many people like to plant in May.
Check your local weather stations and farming resources for the date of the last frost of the season. If there’s a chance of frost, don’t plant! Your zucchini likely won’t survive, so always wait until the danger of frost has passed.
Start Your Seeds Early
Whenever you decide to plant your zucchinis, make sure you’re ready beforehand.
Starting your seeds and hardening them a week or two before you plant can increase your chances of success.
Zucchinis Love Sunlight
Zucchinis are light-loving vegetables. If you’re working in a small space, make sure there will be enough direct sunlight for your zucchinis to grow.
Zucchinis need at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day.
Keep The Top Two Inches Of Soil Watered
Zucchinis need a lot of water to keep up their incredible size. How often you need to water them can vary by your region. But the rule of thumb is to keep the top two inches of soil wet.
Poke a finger in the soil about two inches down. If it feels dry, it’s time to water. You want to saturate the soil, but not so much that it pools on the surface.
You may need to do this once a week or, if you’re in a particularly dry area, every few days. As long as you keep an eye on the dryness of the soil, you’ll know when the time is right.
Watch Out For Powdery Mildew!
Powdery mildew is exactly what it sounds like: a powdery, flour-like substance that dusts the leaves of your zucchini plant.
It’s one of the most common problems in a vegetable garden, but there are ways to prevent it!
Firstly, you can actually buy zucchini varieties that are powdery mildew resistant. Look for a “PMR” label when buying your seeds.
If you’ve already bought your seeds, have no fear. Simply be sure to space your zucchinis a foot or two apart for better air circulation.
You can also spray the leaves of your zucchinis with water on a regular basis. This is a double-whammy because zucchinis need a moist environment to grow properly anyway.
Give them a spray down whenever you water their soil to keep powdery mildew away.
Don’t let a lack of garden space keep you from enjoying fresh zucchini in the summer! Using stakes or a tomato cage to grow zucchini vertically can save you a lot of space.
You can even plant them in pots or other containers, which is perfect for an apartment.
Just be sure to give your zucchini enough light, water, and space, and you’ll be harvesting in no time.