Choosing easy vegetables to grow in the home vegetable garden is especially important for the beginning homesteader. Zucchini grows fast and is a workhorse producing many fruits on just one plant.
USES FOR ZUCCHINI IN THE KITCHEN
Not only is zucchini such an easy vegetable to grow but it is also very versatile in the kitchen.
I have been known to use it in place of cucumbers in salads, diced for use in homemade soup, sliced lengthwise for pizza, made into noodles or put into amazing chocolate muffins.
And if you still have a surplus it can be shredded and added raw to your dog’s dinner and even shredded and frozen for later use. When using frozen and then thawed shredded zucchini be sure to squeeze out excess water before adding it to dishes and recipes.
Easy Vegetables to Grow in the Home Vegetable Garden
Zucchini is an easy plant to grow and nearly foolproof. It can be started inside three to four weeks before last frost or it can be started directly in the garden after danger of last frost and when soil temperature reaches 70F.
I like to start mine inside so that I’m setting a larger plant in the garden. Keep in mind that zucchini seeds sprout quickly and grow very fast.
The zucchini plant gets quite large so leaving enough space about 36 inches between plants is a must. The plants are bountiful so keep that in mind when deciding how many to plant.
And for those with compromised space there is even a smaller version called Patio Star sold by Territorial Seed Company that was specifically bred for container cultivation. At half the size of a standard zucchini plant it still produces full size fruit in abundance.
Plant in fertile soil amended with compost or well-rotted manure. Keep moist but well drained. However, limit water sitting on the leaves as they are prone to powdery mildew.
When I first set my plants in the garden I like to cover them with one-gallon milk/water jugs with the caps removed. These act as mini greenhouses keeping the plant and dirt warm as well as keeping them protected.
Condensation forms and supplies the plant with water. If additional water is needed, the jugs can be removed and placed back over the plant. Once plant outgrows the jug, remove them.
Zucchini benefit from growing on black plastic and by using row covers for weed, insect control, and more rapid growth. Fertilize on a regular basis by watering with compost tea.
The plant will have both male and female flowers on it. The males have a long thin stem while the females have a shorter stem and a wider bulb like area where the flower attaches to the stem. This is called the ovary and is where the fruit develops.
I check for ripe zucchini several times per week and occasionally one gets overlooked underneath those extra-large leaves. Fruit can be cut off, snapped or gently twisted off the plant.
I tend to pick them when they reach 6-8 inches long and are still slim. Harvesting when fruits are young will keep plants productive. If they are just a little bit larger they can be sliced lengthwise in ¼ inch slices and made into pizza. See my zucchini pizza recipe post here.
Potential Zucchini Diseases: Common Insects:
Squash Mosaic Virus Spotted and Striped Cucumber Beetle
Downy Mildew Vine Borers
Powdery Mildew Squash Bugs