As promised, here’s my zucchini hack for growing lots and lots of zucchinis even if you only have a small space.
It’s already August and if you haven’t been able to harvest an abundance of zucchinis yet this post might come right in time for you. Or, maybe you have been harvesting a lot and want even more. Coz let’s be honest, you can never have enough of a vegetable that makes delicious brownies!
- Prepare the soil
- Find the right spot
- Grow them vertically
- Save the male flowers
- Prune without fear
- Harvest on time
- Feed them regularly
Even though zucchini is also called summer squash you can harvest them throughout fall as well. So no worry, we still got time!
First things first, the soil. Like all high-yielding plants (plants that produce a lot of fruits in a short time) zucchini plants need soil rich in organic matter. It provides the necessary nutrients and it helps to manage the water needs. As said before ‘It all starts with the soil‘.
Pick a sunny spot in your garden, it doesn’t have to be the sunniest spot – you can save that place for the tomatoes as they need more sun and less water than your zucchinis. Unlike me, the zucchinis bloom in the morning, so if you have to choose between morning sun or afternoon sun, choose morning sun.
Great companion plants are corn and beans, commonly known as the three sisters. If you hadn’t heard about companion planting before, don’t worry. It’s just placing different species close together so they can help each other out. So lovely!
So, now comes the real trick, place a tutor, big stick, pole or sturdy trellis next to your zucchini plant and start to tie the vine so it will stay upright. I prefer to use jute rope as it easily breaks down in the compost bin.
Growing your zucchinis vertically will:
- save you space
- promote airflow to avoid mildew
- let the fruits grow off the ground so they don’t rot or get eaten
- provide better access to the flowers for pollination
Try to bind the vine regularly and be careful not to strangle any tiny baby fruits or flowers. It’s a little extra work, but it’s well worth it.
Check the flowers
There are male and female flowers and we need them both for pollination. (The first flower in the video is female – the second is male). They’re big and beautiful but only bloom one day. Ideally, they bloom on the same day, but that’s not always the case. That’s where the second hack comes in handy, save the male flower!
Check the flowers in the morning, and if you have more male flowers than female flowers clip the male flower and store it in a container in the fridge. It will stay good for up to three days.
The day you see female flowers, but no male flowers you can use the one you’ve picked a couple of days earlier to pollinate by hand. This is quickly done by carefully and very softly rubbing the stems together or with a little brush (as shown in the first video). Sometimes, despite your effort, a fruit spoils because it wasn’t pollinated. That’s okay, just clip it off as soon as you spot one. These fruits will start to shrink the second day after the flower bloomed.
It’s my favourite morning routine in the summer… slowly zipping away my coffee and walking barefoot through the garden observing the flowers. I just love it.
Once your fruit has been pollinated the leaves below have served their purpose and it’s time to get rid of them. This way the plant can put all its energy into the fruit. So, it’s time to prune without fear. Give that zucchini a nice haircut!
By helping out just a little bit your plant will thank you with loads of fruits and it’s time to harvest. Don’t let them grow too big as it will change their texture. Besides, the more you harvest the more new fruits it will grow.
Even if you don’t plan on eating zucchinis that day, you should still harvest the fruits. You can store them in the fridge, freeze, pickle or dehydrate them for later use.
It never ceases to amaze me how productive such a small patch of land can be. After harvesting so much produce, it’s time to give back. I try to give my plants a little treat every other week or so. There are so many options for homemade fertilizers it deserves its own post. I think diversity is key and don’t overcomplicate and just use what I have. One week it can be bokashi (compost) tea, the other week it can be some soil bacteria (check out Weedy’s video about lactobacillus) and if I had bought some bananas I’ll share the peels with them.
Well, that was about all I had to say about planting and caring for zucchinis, summer squash or courgette. I truly hope it has been helpful. If you think I’ve missed something, let me know. If something wasn’t completely clear.. let me know as well!
‘Till than lovelies!
6 thoughts on “How to grow an abundance of zucchinis”
I love your little videos! 😊 Zucchini – or courgettes as I call them – must be one of the most valuable seasonal foods, so high-yielding, reliable and versatile in the kitchen . . . plus those flowers are truly gorgeous. My favourite variety is ‘Latino’ which is ridged so slices look like flower shapes and it has the best, nuttiest flavour of any I’ve ever tasted. I am way lazier than you, I just plant plenty of pollinator-friendly flowers in the veggie patch and hope the bees will do all the hard work! I’ve never tried drying courgette slices, do you use a dehydrator or air-dry them somehow?
‘Latino courgettes’ … well noted for next year! And, yes it’s always better to have enough flowers nearby to attract pollinators, but I guess not everyone will have enough space for that.
We made a plywood sun dehydrator which works pretty well, but the design can be improved, so we’ll make a new one and share the results here. I’ve also bought an electric dehydrator this year to have as a back-up and to use when I have a lot of produce at once – like when I was preparing to move house/garden 🙂
I’ll look forward to hearing about the solar dehydrator, it sounds right up my street especially as I’m holding out against buying an electric one!
The one we’ve made has two trays, but the produce on the second tray doesn’t dry half as quick so I only use one tray which is just enough for one courgette or two to three handfuls of cherry tomatoes. Considering that both need about three days to dry, you should check the weather report first, otherwise, you’ll risk losing your produce due to funghi. It helps to add salt though.
The electronic dehydrator we’ve bought has little to no plastic and is easy to repair in case it breaks down someday. It has six trays so that’s quite the upgrade. I’ve also noted that the colours stay more vibrant which leaves me to think it’s healthier. We don’t have a freezer so this is how I’d hope to equal out the electricity it uses, nonetheless, I also prefer the sun and the no-nonsense approach 🙂
Thanks for your thoughtful and insightful feedback. We freeze a lot of stuff and at the moment power cuts are few and far between here plus we do have our own generator if push comes to shove . . . but I do like to dry some produce, too, because I think more and more we need to cover all bases. We’re planning to build a solar oven so I might have to slip the idea of a solar dehydrator in for my pet engineer to think about! 😆