When to plant
Zucchini are a warm season crop. They can be grown in either full sun during spring and autumn or semi-shade in the heat of the summer (late Autumn to early Spring for the Tropics). Cultivate groups of three plants each month successively over the warm season. Seed or seedlings in yellow, green, striped or mottled varieties. It is important to remember that only one type of zucchini should be cultivated in the garden at any one time, to prevent cross-pollination affecting the quality of your crop.
Where to plant
Zucchini like to be grown in well-composted, deep soil that has been heavily manured the season before. Good drainage is important to prevent fungal infections. Compact varieties grow well in large containers with plenty of drainage holes, such as polystyrene boxes.
How to plant
Zucchini likes a well-composted, deep soil that has been heavily manured the season before. Ensure good drainage. Dig the soil over to a depth of 15cm, adding plenty of 5IN1 Organic Fertiliser Zucchini have delicate, shallow roots so ensure that the soil is well dug to facilitate good development. Seed should be sown in groups of three, spaced according to the directions on the packet but usually at least 1m apart, into saucer-like depressions in the soil. Seedlings should be planted similarly, taking care not to damage the fine roots when transplanting. Sprinkle Searles Penetraide Granules over the soil and keep young plants well watered.
How to maintain
Soil should be kept very moist up until the time that the fruits begin to mature, after which watering should taper off so the roots remain slightly damp. When watering it is important to use a dripper system, so the foliage, stems and fruit are kept dry. To protect their shallow roots from drying out and to prevent the above-ground parts of the plant from coming into contact with the soil, spread a layer of mulch under each plant. Bees pollinate zucchini, so avoid using insecticides around them. If natural pollination is not successful, try hand pollination. Gently remove the male flower (identified by its powdery pollen-covered stamens in the centre) and lightly wipe the inside of the female flower (identified by a slight swelling at its base) with it.
Pests and Diseases
Zucchini is susceptible to Powdery mildew, which covers the plant leaves and is particularly an issue during the Summer months. Powdery Mildew can be controlled by removing the worst affected foliage and treating it with Searles Mancozeb Plus. Aphids may colonise on young growth and should be sprayed with Searles Bug Beater if the infestation is heavy. Water in the mornings rather than at night to discourage fungal infections.
Zucchini should be picked when young and tender; overdeveloped fruits are spongy and tasteless. Regular harvesting encourages a continual yield. Zucchini flowers are edible and are delicious, dipped in a tempura batter and served as a side dish.
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