When planting zucchini, choose a variety that's appropriate for the amount of space you have. If you intend to grow zucchini in containers, choose a bush variety. If you are planting zucchini in a traditional vegetable garden, you can choose a bush or vining variety, depending on the amount of space you have. Vining varieties usually require 8 square feet of garden space, while more common bush varieties require 4 square feet. Both types of plants are known to produce lots of squash. Zucchini transplants don't like to have their roots disturbed and subsequently have a high failure rate. It's best to sow the seeds directly in the garden. If your climate dictates that you start sooner, sow the seeds indoors in biodegradable pots that can be planted directly into the ground.
Zucchini should be planted at least 2 weeks after all danger of frost in your area. It's usually best to wait until the soil temperature has warmed to at least 65 degrees F. Since most varieties mature in 50-65 days, zucchini can also be planted throughout the summer, up until 10 weeks before the first expected hard frost. Some folks choose to plant zucchini as a second second season crop after spring vegetables like peas and lettuce are finished. This approach is a good way to maximize the productivity of your vegetable garden.
When growing zucchini in a traditional vegetable garden, make sure the soil is well tilled down to a depth of 8 inches. Create small hills or mounds a foot across and approximately 4 inches high. Space the mounds 24 inches apart for bush varieties and 36 inches apart for vining varieties. Remember to choose a sunny location as zucchini plants need 6-8 hours of daily direct sunlight for maximum production. Using your finger or the handle end of a hoe or trowel, create two holes approximately 1 inch deep near the center of each mound. Place a seed in each hole and cover with an inch of soil. After you have planted the seeds, water them in thoroughly. When the seedlings begin to sprout, thin to one seedling in each mound.
When growing zucchini in a container, there is no need to create the mounds. Choose a bush variety and select a container at least 18 inches across and 12 inches deep. The container should have holes in the bottom for adequate drainage. Again, remember to place the containers in a location where they will receive adequate direct sunlight. Plant 2-3 seeds per container and thin to 1-2 plants when the seedlings emerge.
Now that you've finished planting zucchini, it's time to think about watering and fertilizing your crop to get the maximum yield.
Click here to learn about fertilizing and watering zucchini plants
Click here for help with zucchini plant problems
Click here to learn about harvesting zucchini
Click here for some of our favorite zucchini recipes
Click here for information about different varieties of zucchini
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