Whenever there’s zucchini growing in the garden, it feels like there are options in the kitchen, and an abundance of them. This is a veggie that’s useful for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Zucchini never wakes up grumpy and is happy to go to bed late.

Sure, it’s a bit of a guts when it comes to eating up your garden space, but with one plant able to produce a prolific amount of produce, it can satisfy even the gutsiest zucchini eaters. Scrambled eggs, salads and ratatouille, all day, any day.

When growing the plant, zucchini has a less-is-more approach to the veggie patch. Allowing one plant to grow properly and realise all its hopes and fritters is always better than keeping a couple that are breathing all over each other. It will appreciate airflow to control pests and diseases, as well as a clear landing path for pollinating insects, primarily the bee.

A common problem is when fruit begins to form but quickly turns into shrivelled prunes – a sign of poor pollination – so good old-fashioned hand pollination may be required. If your kids haven’t yet had the birds and the bees conversation, take them out to the garden, hand pollinate a zucchini flower and kill two birds with one stone.


Sow seed directly into the patch, 2-3cm deep in mounds of compost, once soil temperature exceeds 20 celsius. Once germinated protect young seedlings with plastic collars if you have a snail and slug hangover from the previous winter.


In ground: Water daily for the first 4 weeks and 3-4 times a week in the absence of rainfall thereafter. Watering frequency may need to be elevated during hot weather.

In Pots: Water daily, in the absence of rainfall, for the entirety of its lifecycle. The best practice is to water in the morning, however on extremely warm days a late afternoon water may also be necessary.


In cooler areas it’s best to incubate the young seedlings using open- ended plastic bottles, which will also keep pests at bay.

Give monthly application of fish fertiliser or seaweed extract and mulch to a depth of 2-3cm using pea straw or lucerne hay.

While not a vertical climber, they will grow out in a particular direction, which you can manipulate to suit the rest of your patch.

As the zucchini plants throw out its first flower, apply a liquid potassium to encourage good flower and fruit growth. If you notice an inequality of male vs female flowers, take a deep breath, they will soon come. Poor flower production can also mean insufficient sunlight, so assess where the plants lay this season, and alter the next. If fruit begins to set but then dies back, you have poor pollination; hand pollination is your best option at this point.

Fruiting plants will begin to die back and will be overcome by powdery mildew. Prune off affected leaves and use a milk spray to help control its spread.


Time until first harvest: 60–75 days

How to harvest: Once the zucchini has reached your desired size, snip the vine a few centimetres above the fruit. Keep in mind that bigger is not better. The texture becomes tough and dry once many zucchini exceed 30 centimetres in length. The plant can only produce a particular number of fruit and flowers at the one time, so oversized zucchinis begin to hog the plants’ energy.


Don’t cram your patch with plants, as it will only end in tears. Give them space and allow them to fully develop, allowing them to be much more productive than a number of stunted plants. If noticing poor setting of fruit, your best option is to hand pollinate to ensure that flowers and fruit set properly.


Cool/Mountainous: October - December
Temperate: September - January
Subtropical: August - February
Tropical: March - September




Full sun


2–3 cm


80–100 cm




A week prior to planting, prepare soil with lots of compost and well rotted chook manure, ensuring that it is fertile and free draining


Pots, in-ground






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