Someone I know said “We’re not even growing any zucchini in our garden this year!” because it is so very prolific and some members of her family aren’t big fans. Zucchini definitely grows well, but it is also incredibly versatile in the kitchen, playing the lead role in savory dishes as well as sweet ones. It can be cut and roasted or sautéed, baked into breads, used as a pizza topping or even made into noodles and eaten like spaghetti!
Even the blossoms of this large plant are edible! If you decide to harvest them, make sure you grab only the male blossoms, saving the females to grow the fruit!
Thinking about growing zucchini in your garden?
Soil preparation: Zucchini likes well-drained, fertile soil that’s been amended with lots of compost.
Planting: Plant seed outdoors when the soil temperature has reached 60°F—about a week after the last frost.
Spacing: You want to give your squash a lot of room to spread out and grow. Plant them about 3 to 4 feet apart in rows 8 to 12 feet apart.
Watering: Zucchini like consistently moist soil. To prevent problems with disease, always water from below.
Fertilizing: Spray plants with compost tea two weeks after seedlings come up. Spray again in three weeks or when the first flowers appear.
Special hint: If space is limited, put up a trellis for vertical support.
Pale to brown blotches on leaves are the work of squash bugs. Squash vine borers cause plants to wilt suddenly.
Powdery mildew may strike the plants, leaving whitish powdery spots on leaves that turn brown and dry. Plants that wilt and ooze a sticky sap when cut may be infected with bacterial wilt, which is spread by cucumber beetles.
Harvest zucchini when the fruits are still small—about 3 to 4 inches across or 4 to 6 inches long. You can store zucchini in the refrigerator for about a week.
Need a recipe?
This recipe came from a member of the CSA for which I work. It comes with such a high recommendation it’s the first recipe I’m sharing that I haven’t prepared myself yet!
8-10 cups zucchini, peeled, cubed and seeded
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup lemon juice
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. fresh nutmeg
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1½ cups chilled butter
2 +/- tsp. cinnamon
1 cup granola or oats (optional)
1) Place the prepared zucchini in a bowl with 1 cup of sugar, stir frequently and let sit until the water is drawn out of the zucchini and a syrup has formed (this process can take a few hours or it can sit over night).
2) Add lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. (If you’re in a hurry, you can expedite by cooking the zucchini, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.)
3) In a separate bowl: mix flour, the remaining 2 cups of sugar, and butter. Blend together using a pastry knife (or butter knife).
4) Mix 1/2 cup of the pastry mixture in with the zucchini as a thickener and place 1/2 of the remaining mixture in the bottom of a greased baking dish. Use your hands to press it into the dish to form a crust.
5) Pour the zucchini mixture on top of the crust. Add to the remaining pastry mixture and your ‘finishing touches’ (cinnamon, granola, oats, etc.). Pour this mixture on top of the zucchini. Place in the oven and bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes.