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Zucchini Growing Information
Growing conditions. Plant zucchini in full sun in compost rich, well-drained soil. Zucchini likes to get its start in the spot where it will grow, but if you want to get a jump on the season, start seed indoors 3 to 4 weeks before the last expected frost (Don’t disturb the roots when transplanting from pot). A week before transplanting, harden off seedlings by cutting back on water.
Sowing or setting out starts. Zucchini wants warm soil and air temperatures for growing—in the 20s°C is optimal. Zucchini seed won’t germinate in cold soil. Wait until the soil temperature has reached 15°C before direct seeding or setting out starts. Lay down a sheet of black plastic to warm the soil before sowing or planting if your area is cool. Plants started in chilly temperatures may become stunted.
Spacing. Space plants 60cm to 1m apart to provide air circulation and discourage disease. A good planting strategy is to plant zucchini on low hills that easily warm in spring. Sow three seeds to a hill and when seedlings have one true leaf, thin the starts to one per hill—just snip off the weakest plants with scissors so as not to disturb the roots of the one that remains.
Pollination. Zucchini is a monoecious plant, meaning each plant has both male and female flowers. A female flower has a small swelling (the ovary) at the base of its short-stem. A male flower has a long, thin stem—and is usually larger than the female. Bees and insects must visit the male flower then the female flower for pollination.
Watering. Keep the soil evenly moist. Give zucchini 1 inch of water a week. The critical time for watering is during bud development and flowering. Once plants are established, mulch with straw, hay, or dried leaves to retain soil moisture and suppress weeds. Drought stressed plants are more susceptible to insect attacks.
Feeding. Zucchini are heavy feeders. Prepare the planting bed with lots of organic matter—a few inches of aged compost spread across the bed and then turned under. If leaves grow pale or plants seem weak, side-dress zucchini with well-aged compost or use a foliar spray of liquid fish or kelp fertiliser—high in phosphorus for fruit production. Don’t use a fertiliser too high in nitrogen; it will diminish your yield.
Lots of flowers, no fruit. If your plants are flowering but not producing fruit, there is may not be enough bees around for pollination. Hand pollinate flowers with a cotton swab—gather pollen from the male flower and dab it on to the golden stigma in the centre of the female flower. And plant flowers around such as marigolds and cosmos.