Known far and wide as one of the easiest vegetables to grow, zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) is a great starter plant for novice gardeners. The length of time it takes to harvest zucchini depends on whether you start from seed or set out transplants. The initial harvest window averages just under two months, but this varies based on a number of factors.
You can start harvesting your zucchini from 35 to 55 days, depending on growing conditions.
Tips for Planting Zucchini
With a little care and luck, you can be rewarded with a bounty of yellow or green summer squash, also known as zucchini. They can be eaten raw, steamed, roasted, grilled and stuffed. Zucchini bread is another way to enjoy this popular veggie. Another great thing about zucchini plants is that once they are planted, it doesn't take long at all for them to produce a crop.
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It is best to hold off until two weeks after the last frost occurs in your region and the soil has warmed up before sowing seeds for this squash. Zucchini seeds can also be started later in the spring, and the plants do best in temperatures ranging from 60 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You can try succession planting, which means sowing more seeds every couple of weeks until the middle of summer. This way, the harvest can continue until wintertime.
Allow for at least 3 to 4 feet of space in your garden for the plants. The seeds should be sown right into the garden soil in a location that receives full sun. There are many different kinds of zucchini, like yellow sunburst, Italian zucchini, and the Middle Eastern cousa. Some have thicker skins and stronger flavors, and heirloom varieties tend to be on the larger size.
Types of Zucchini Plants
Zucchini plants can have rambling vines or can grow more like bushes. Bush varieties work well in smaller spaces, and the vining types can be tied with twine onto trellises. You may need to add extra support when they get larger.
The plants need at least 1 inch or more of water every week, whether it's from rainfall or watering. Do this early in the morning and water the roots rather than the leaves to avoid fungal diseases.
Zucchini Growth Rates
Depending on the type of squash, you can expect slightly different growth rates. Since zucchini is a summer squash, it can be ready to harvest in as few as 35 days or up to two months. That is because they have a softer skin; winter squash, like butternut or acorn, take about three months or more to ripen.
Once you've sown zucchini seeds, look for the crop to be ready to harvest in about 35 to 55 days. These plants are at their most prolific for two- to three-week periods, and after four weeks, they can be pulled out. That is why succession planting works so well. Once a plant has exhausted its crop, it can be removed to make room for the next ones.
As the plants grow, you will see male and female flowers; note that the females have very small fruits at their bases. Bees transport pollen from the male flowers to the females, and once the female flowers are fertilized, the fruit will start growing at a rate of about 1 inch per day. Harvest the zucchini when it is about 6 to 8 inches long; otherwise, it could grow too large or dry up and become inedible.