The humble zucchini is so delicious, so versatile, and it’s absolutely fascinating to watch them grow.
Although it is one of the most straightforward vegetables to grow, many things can cause problems, some of which may be out of your control.
However, there are plenty of ways you can achieve success. To enjoy its delights all summer long, follow these 8 zucchini secrets for a huge harvest.
1. Try growing zucchini vertically
It may sound crazy, but growing zucchini off the ground and vertically will boost your harvest.
Growing higher is a space-saving idea, giving you more room around and underneath the leaves.
Because the plant is off the ground, you’ll also spare yourself some of the destruction of disease and pests that are rife in horizontally grown zucchini plants.
Zucchini plants aren’t natural climbers, so you’ll need to do the training. Although it looks complex, it’s a very simple process.
Use a pole, cane, or stick length and push it into the ground next to where you have sewn the seeds or planted them. As the shoots emerge, tie them to the support, and then simply remove any leaves below a growing zucchini.
Not only will this encourage your plant to grow higher, but the plant will focus its energy on growing fruit rather than leaves.
2. ‘Bee’ the pollinator
It’s no secret that for fruit to grow, you’ll need a pollinator; bees and other flying insects are the perfect examples of these.
If this process doesn’t happen, your beautiful bright yellow flowers will wither and begin to rot away without going on to produce the treasure. However, there is a solution to save your huge harvest, and that is for you to replicate the job of our flying friends.
Although replicating a bee may sound impossible, it’s much easier than you’d think. Begin by familiarizing yourself with the difference between male and female flowers; males have shorter stems, whereas females are much longer with a zucchini shape at their base.
Early morning is best for this activity. So, as the sun begins to shine, find yourself a cotton bud or small paintbrush and touch the pollen of a male flower before doing the same into the center of the female.
Repeat the process with the other flowers, and your plant will soon begin to produce your bumper harvest.
3. Avoid blossom end rot
If you’ve not experienced Blossom End Rot, you’re lucky. You’ll know your zucchini plant has it if the ends of the flowers blacken and wither away.
However, it is avoidable by paying attention to two different aspects of the growing process.
The first cause of Blossom End Rot is a lack of calcium. Calcium is crucial to a plant because it supports healthy cell walls. It’s also good to know that this plant needs a constant supply of calcium to stay healthy and bear fruit.
The second cause is irregular watering. A zucchini plant does not like the rollercoaster ride between wet and dry, so keeping that consistency is crucial to your huge harvest.
If you notice the giant flowers’ tips discoloring and shriveling, immediately remove those buds and use a liquid fertilizer to boost the soil’s nutritional content.
If you think watering might be the problem, consider setting your alarm, so you don’t forget.
In cooler weather, your plant will need a good watering once a week, increasing to 2 or 3 times a week as the air temperature increases.
4. Rotate your crops
The main idea of moving your plant to a new spot each year is that, in doing so, you’re helping to keep the soil healthy, and healthy soil means a much healthier plant and a better harvest.
Your zucchini plant will thank you wholeheartedly for doing so.
The problem with planting the same crop, in the same spot year on year, is that you’re leaving it open to a build-up of soil-borne diseases and pests.
For example, if you’ve had a problem with aphids eating away at your zucchini plant one year and you plant your seeds in the same spot the following year, you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll be back and cause the same problem.
If you pop them in the ground somewhere else, you may be able to avoid them altogether.
Secondly, it is essential to remember that different crops require different nutrients, so if you stick to one spot, you’ll deplete the nutrients they need much quicker.
5. Consider the humble earthworm
Earthworms are the King Kong of the soil and are masters of keeping it healthy. These little brown wiggly things that many people find icky are so important you cannot dismiss them.
The humble earthworm spends its day creating channels through your soil, eating the remains of leaves, grass, and animal waste, and then pooping it back out. Sounds irrelevant, but, an earthworm’s excrement is rich in nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.
Plus, their waste product helps bind calcium, iron, and sulfur to soil particles. All of these are vital for plants to grow and thrive.
Not only that, but as an earthworm weaves its way through your soil, it is loosening particles. This provides better drainage and air circulation, and these are both conditions a zucchini plant love.
If you find your garden is short of these magic makers, you can transfer some to your patch to allow new colonies to form and make sure to leave the organic matter, such as fallen leaves.
If you’re unsure, mulches are loose coverings that you put on your soil and around plants. Types of biodegradable mulches include woodchippings, bark, and even seaweed.
There are several benefits to mulching around your zucchini plant.
Firstly, it acts as a barrier between the soil and the plant. This will help stop moisture from leaving the ground, meaning it won’t dry out as quickly. The mulch will act as a layer of insulation during colder spells and keep the soil cool at the height of the season.
Secondly, mulching around your plants makes it much harder for weeds to creep in. Fewer weeds mean less extra backbreaking work for you. Your plant will also thank you because weeds ultimately become additional competitors for space and nutrients.
Lastly, with plants such as zucchini that are often grown on the ground, mulch can stop your fruit from rotting by acting as a barrier by preventing the fruit from touching the soil.
That’s a fair few benefits for adding a simple layer of mulch!
7. Lobster compost
Lobster compost may not be at the top of your garden shopping list; however, it may be very soon.
For an excellent, healthy, and robust zucchini crop, calcium is critical. Lobster shells just so happen to be jam-packed full of the stuff and phosphates and magnesium, so when composted down to something you can pop your plants into, the nutrients remain.
When a plant has an abundance of calcium, its cell walls will be more robust, and a more vigorous plant is less susceptible to disease.
Lobster compost also has a carbohydrate called chitin. Chitin is fantastic at keeping moisture locked in. It can help control the spread of any unwanted fungus.
8. Timing is everything
Once your bumper crop of zucchini grows, it’s time to think about harvesting them.
Pinch them from the stem when they are still young for the tastiest and sweetest treat, measuring just 10 centimeters. Leave them until they reach 15 centimeters if you plan to cook with them.
But the most important thing to remember is that the more fruit you remove from the plant, the more will grow in its place, and the bigger your overall crop will be.
The happiest of zucchini plants will provide you with food from early summer all the way through to the first frost.