Zucchini, as it is most commonly known in Australia, is an Italian word. These veggies are known as “courgettes” in parts of Europe, and “vegetable marrow” in Britain. Other names include “long marrow” and “garden marrow”.
Zucchini like a warm and sunny location, it is imperative that the location is frost free. It is best to keep them away from pathways as they can get prickly. You need to allow about 1m2per plant. Zucchini have an enormous yield, so three plants should be sufficient for most families.
In sub-tropical areas the growing season is September through February.
Zucchini loves compost and prefers a pH close to 6.5. Plant seedlings in small mound of 3:1 compost / soil mix. Feed with seaweed tea when planted and again at the first harvest. In poorer soils, monthly feeds of seaweed tea are recommended.
Zucchini love a moist, well drained soil and respond best to sub-surface irrigation. Water early in the morning; avoid water on the leaves as it often results in mould growth and never water with grey water.
Zucchini grow fast with some varieties bearing fruit within 6 weeks. For the best flavour it is best to harvest when the fruit is about 15cm long. Fruit should be cut from the vine with a sharp knife rather than being pulled off.
Pests and problems
Zucchini can have issues but most can be avoided by using good soil and avoiding watering the leaves as they are susceptible to a variety of mildews, fungus, root rot and pollination issues.
Common diseases include bacterial wilt, downy mildew, powdery mildew, and viruses. In the case of bacterial wilt, leaves begin to die. Cut the wilted stem and touch the tip of your knife to the sap. If it is milky and sticky, your plant is infected. Destroy infected plants immediately. Bacterial wilt, mildews and most viruses can be controlled or prevented with good cultural practices. Inspect plants often and control insect pests that can spread disease. Keep the garden clean and free of weeds and debris. Mildews can be reduced or prevented with proper watering and good air circulation.
Common pests associated with summer squash are aphids, spider mites, squash vine borers, and whiteflies. Planting nasturtium with zucchini reduces aphid problems, however, nasturtium seeds are slow to germinate and should be planted before the squash. Insecticidal soap may be used to control aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies, but be sure to dilute the spray and refrain from spraying in the heat of the day because squash leaves may burn easily. It is wise to test a few leaves first before spraying the entire plant. And don’t forget the undersides of leaves, where spider mites and whiteflies are usually found.
Whilst not the most attractive of vegies zucchini is very good nutritionally and is high in fibre, folic acid, magnesium, vitamin C, and potassium.