Growing zucchini (courgettes)
Golden zucchinis growing
Common fruiting problems
We often get emails about two common fruiting problems with
The little 1-3 inch zucchinis rot. This is because the female
flowers are not being pollinated by male pollen. This is pretty
common place, particularly if there isn't many bees around.
You can help prevent this by hand pollinating. Rub a cotton
wool bug against the male pollen (on the flower with the long
stem) and then rub against the golden crown in the female
flower (which also has a mini zucchini swelling behind the
petals). This doesn't always work, but it does improve your
The second problem sounds like blossom end rot where fruit
almost ready to harvest starts rotting from the top of the
fruit. Ideally this is prevented much earlier in the season
by adding lime to the soil. Otherwise it can be caused by
irregular watering. Mulch around your zucchinis and water
regularly. If your plants have many days of no water and then
a glut of it, blossom end rot can develop, ruining the fruit.
We've had mixed results with zucchinis (sometimes called courgettes,
marrows or summer squash) over the years. They may not be the tastiest
vegetable in the garden but as your mother used to remind you - eat your
Zucchinis can be badly effected by frosts and cold weather, so grow
them during the warmer months.
They're grown in full sun or partial shade.
Zucchinis like a soil manured the previous season.
They love well drained beds.
In a 4 bed rotation system zucchini
is grown with summer vegies like sweet corn, pumpkins, cucumbers and
By far it's easiest to directly sow your seed where you want your
zucchini to grow. Create a foot wide mound of soil about an inch taller
than the surrounding soil. Plant 3 or 4 zucchini seeds as deep as
your first knuckle.
As zucchini is such a bulky plant you'll need to thin the seedlings
down to your strongest plant in each mound.
We've had two problems with zucchinis: the amount of space they consume
and the air tends to stagnate around the main stem, causing it to
rot. We're hoping to fix both of these problems with one solution.
Thanks to a letter in the excellent American magazine Organic Gardening
we're going to try growing our zucchinis vertically. We're planning
to stake the plants as they grow. This way we should save space and
air will circulate around the plant. This should (in theory) hopefully
reduce the chance of the main stem rotting. The important thing about
growing zucchini vertically is keeping ties (like old pantyhose) regularly
up the "trunk". This summer I started doing this, got lazy and soon
it was flopping about on the ground getting moldy as they usually
do. Memo to self: don't be lazy, follow through with experiments.
Feed them every so often with an organic liquid fertilizer.
If you don't get many bees or pollinating insects around your way
you might need to pollinate the zucchini flowers yourself. Get a cotton
wool bud and take some pollen from the male flower. Male flowers tend
to be on the end of a long narrow stalk. Female flowers are a lot
closer to the main stem and have a swelling behind the petals. Look
inside the female flower. There should be a golden formation. Dab
the male pollen all over this female part. Hopefully in a few weeks
that swelling behind the female flower will grow into a zucchini.
Mature zucchini leaves tend to develop a mottled silvery grey colour
which looks a lot like powdery mildew. You should be right unless
you water the leaves. Powdery mildew often occurs on wet zucchini
leaves, or for that matter almost any vegetable leaves that are wet.
Remember to water where its needed most, the roots, not the leaves.
In summer you'll need to keep your zucchini's water levels high. They
dehydrate very quickly on hot days so mulch them heavily (but remember
to keep the mulch away from the main stem).
19 August, 2012
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