Description: The plant is a vine that spreads over the ground and has large green leaves with yellow flowers.
There are a number of varieties. Zucchini ‘fruits’ can be dark green, pale green or yellow.
Black Jack variety
Zucchinis have a delicate flavour which is slightly sweet. Zucchinis can be made into soup, savoury slices and added to cakes and muffins as well as cooked as a vegetable as part of the main meal.
Size:The zucchini needs room to spread so allow at least a square metre for each plant.
Allow zucchini vines room to spread
Conditions: Zucchinis grow best in well drained rich soil in a sunny but sheltered position. Add compost and complete fertiliser to improve soil before planting. Keep the soil damp but not water logged.
Zucchinis grow well in the same area as lettuce, tomatoes, capsicum, sweet corn, spinach, silver beet and parsley. They should not be planted near potatoes.
Propagation: Plant seeds 12mm (half inch) deep. 3 or 4 seeds can be planted in a group and when established thinned to the 2 healthiest plants. Keep seeds damp but not water logged.
Zucchinis grow easily from seeds
Punnets of seedlings can be bought from plant nurseries.
Zucchinis can be picked about 6 to 8 weeks after planting when they are about 10 to15cm (4 to 6in) long. It is best to pick at this size to encourage a heavier crop although zucchinis can be allowed to grow bigger and stuffed with a breadcrumb or rice mixture before roasting. Harvest by cutting the fruit off using a sharp knife.
Zucchini ready to pick
Apply liquid fertilizer monthly to encourage growth.
Bees transfer pollen from male flowers to female flowers. If this is not happening and ‘fruit’ is not setting, gently dust the pollen from the stamen of male flowers into the centre of female flowers. (Female flowers have a bulbous growth on the base.)
Powdery mildew on the leaves may be a problem. Badly affected leaves should be removed and disposed of. The leaves can be sprayed with a mixture of 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda dissolved in 600ml of water.
When to Plant: Seeds can be planted in temperate regions once there is no danger of frost. In warmer regions plant earlier and avoid growth during the wet summer period. Zucchinis can get black rot if the soil is water logged. Humidity can cause powdery and downy mildews and several other diseases.