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Growing Zucchini – Tips for How to Grow Summer Squash

Growing zucchini  (AKA summer squash) involves selecting the right variety, spacing plants correctly and being effective with pest control. Otherwise, most gardeners will tell you that zucchini almost grows itself!

Be careful though! Your neighbors might have to lock their door when they see you coming over with armfuls of zucchini!

Growing summer squash will yield a plentiful harvest to enjoy in summer recipes. By following our tips, you can cultivate healthy plants and a big crop of zucchini in your own backyard garden.

Keep reading to learn more about growing this prolific summer vegetable.

Zucchini plant with flowers and words Tips for growing zucchini.

Why is it called summer squash?

There are numerous types of squash but they generally fall into two types – summer squash and winter squash.

Summer squash is so called because it is typically harvested and eaten during the summer months. The term “summer squash” distinguishes these varieties from winter squash, such as pumpkins and butternut squash.

Various types of summer squash on a metal tray.

Unlike winter squash, which has a thicker skin and can be stored for longer periods, summer squash has a tender skin and is best eaten shortly after harvest.

This harvest usually in the summer season. Winter squash, on the other hand,  are harvested in the fall and can be stored through the winter months.

Overview of summer squash

Brush up on your knowledge of summer squash with these facts.

  • Botanical name – Cucurbita pepo
  • Family – Cucurbitaceae – includes pumpkins, cucumbers, and various types of melons
  • Common names – zucchini, yellow squash, crookneck squash, straight neck squash, pattypan squash
  • Type of plant – annual vegetable
  • Soil pH – 5.8 to 6.8
  • Native to – believed to be native to the Americas, particularly the region that is now Mexico. It is a type of summer squash that has been cultivated for thousands of years by indigenous peoples in the Americas.
  • Sun needs – full sun – 6 – 8 hours a day
  • Soil type – well draining
  • Varieties – yellow, straight, crookneck, zephyr, green, scalloped
  • Fun fact – The skin of summer squash is also edible, and the blossoms are delicious when stuffed.

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Tips for growing zucchini

Squash is a very easy-to-grow vegetable and will produce an abundance of fruit and flowers with very little attention. However, even this prolific vegetable has some preferences.

Follow these tips for summer squash care to get the most out of your crop.

Choosing the right variety of squash

One of the first steps in growing zucchini is selecting the right variety for your garden. There are several popular types to choose from.

Consider factors such as your climate, available space, and personal preference when making your selection.

For small gardens or container growing, compact varieties like pattypan or bush zucchini are excellent choices, while sprawling varieties like crookneck squash may require more space.

Basket of zucchini with words types of summer squash and a list.

Some popular varieties are:

Soil needs for growing zucchini

Summer squash thrives in well-drained, fertile soil with plenty of organic matter. Before planting, amend your soil with compost or aged manure to improve its texture and nutrient content.

Zucchini seedling near fertile soil, tools and a pH meter.

Aim for a slightly acidic to neutral pH level (around 6.0-7.0) for optimal growth. Additionally, make sure the the soil drains well, so as to avoid root rot and other fungal types of disease.

Planting zucchini

Plant summer squash seeds directly in the garden once all danger of frost has passed. Wait until the  soil temperatures have warmed to be dependably 70°F (39°C).

Summer squash seeds will rot in cold, damp soil, so don’t plant too early.

Sow seeds 1 inch deep and space them 2-3 feet apart in rows or hills.

Woman with garden gloves, planting zucchini in soil.

If growing from seedlings, handle them carefully to avoid damaging the delicate roots. Space transplants according to the recommendations for your chosen variety, but usually 2-3 feet apart.

Watering and fertilizing summer squash

Summer squash plants require consistent moisture throughout the growing season to produce healthy fruits. Water deeply once or twice a week, to keep the soil evenly moist.

Avoid overhead watering, since wet foliage can increase the risk of fungal diseases. Mulching around the base of plants can help retain moisture, will keep the weeds away, and will also regulate the soil temperature.

Zucchini plants being watered by drip irrigation.

Fertilize summer squash plants regularly to promote vigorous growth and abundant fruit production. A balanced fertilizer high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium can help meet their nutritional needs.

Apply fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions, taking care not to over-fertilize, which can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of fruit development.

Pests and diseases that affect zucchini

Keep an eye out for common pests and diseases that can affect summer squash, such as aphids, squash bugs, and blossom end rot.

Summer squash plant with squash bugs on it.

Monitor plants regularly for signs of damage or distress, and take prompt action to address any issues. A lightweight row cover will protect from pests, but remove it when blossoms appear.

Practice good garden hygiene by removing fallen leaves and debris, and rotating crops.

Blossom drop can occur in squash and zucchini plants, affecting both flowers and developing fruits. Environmental stress, nutrient deficiencies, and pollination issues can contribute to blossom drop in these crops.

Powdery mildew is a common problem affecting summer squash. Planting disease-resistant varieties will help. You can print out a list of these in the card at the bottom of this post.

Harvesting summer squash

Summer squash usually matures within 2 months of planting and produces all season long. Check your squash plants regularly, since they can grow quickly under favorable conditions.

Use a sharp knife or pruning shears to cut the squash from the vine, taking care not to damage the plant. Harvesting regularly encourages the plant to produce more fruit.

Woman with a basket harvesting some pattypan summer squash.

I like to harvest summer squash when the fruits are still small, (6-8 inches) often with the flower attached. The flowers are also edible.

Doing this will help you avoid what normally happens in mid summer – a glut of zucchini that you can get rid of!

Share this post about growing zucchini on Twitter

If you enjoyed learning how to grow summer squash, be sure to share this post with a friend. Here is a tweet to get you started:

Master the art of growing summer squash with our step by step tutorial! Get practical tips from planting to pest control on The Gardening Cook. #SummerSquash #GardeningTips #HomeGrown #VegetableGarden Share on X

Pin this post for growing zucchini

Would you like a reminder of this post for growing summer squash? Just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.

You can also watch our video for growing zucchini squash on YouTube!

Zucchini plant with flowers and fruit and words tips for growing zucchini.

Yield: 1 shopping list

Summer Squash Varieties Resistant to Powdery Mildew

Images of summer squash on a yellow background.

Summer squash are quite susceptible to powdery mildew. Don't let that keep you from growing it though.

There are disease-resistant varieties which are cultivated to withstand common fungal and viral diseases that can affect squash plants.

Print out this shopping list and add it to your garden journal for reference when you go shopping for seeds.

Active Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Difficulty easy
Estimated Cost $1

Materials

  • Heavy card stock or printer paper

Tools

  • Computer printer

Instructions

  1. Load your printer with heavy card stock or printer paper.
  2. Choose portrait layout and if possible "fit to page" in your settings.
  3. Take the shopping list with you the next time you go plant shopping.

Notes

Using this print function on this card will print a calendar that fills about 3/4 of an 8 x 11 sheet of paper.

To fill the entire page, choose "fit to page" on your printer if you have this setting, or use the link in the post above and print using the browser print feature.

Printable with pictures of summer squash - words Summer squash varieties to powdery mildew and a list of these.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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