How to Zucchini
Zucchini's or Courgettes are a great addition to the vegetable garden. They are a warm season crop that does not cope with the cold, so are best grown in late Spring in cooler areas. As a Cucurbit, they are related to Pumpkin, Squash, Melons and Cucumbers and have similar requirements. There are a number of varieties, the above pictured plant is a Black Jack.
They like a well manured bed, with plenty of rotted organic matter dug through at least one week prior to planting. Sow in punnets in early spring and keep in a greenhouse or undercover until frosts have passed and transplant out. Alternately, sow direct in early summer.
Zucchini's are prolific barers, so two or three plants will be more than enough to supply an average family.
Position: Shade to partial shade
Plant: Can be grown in pots or planted out as seedlings in spring when the soil temperature has warmed. Can be sown direct in early summer.
Frost Tolerant: No Heat tolerant: Yes - but protect from extreme summer heat to prevent sunburn of the fruit
Feeding: Well composted and manured soil. Liquid feed weekly when the plants are mature in summer. Water at soil level only.
Planting group: Member of the Cucurbit family and are grouped with Melons, pumkins, cucumbers and squash.
Pests: Main pests are birds/slugs/snails as seedlings, mature plants rarely suffer from insects. If you experience higher humidity levels, good plant spacing is essential to ensure air flow and help minimise outbreaks of white powdery mildew.
Harvesting: Zucchini when young can be easily twisted off the mature plants, but are better cut with scissors or secateurs.
Dealing with disease
In my experience, the only disease I've really ever had to deal with here is White Powdery Mildew. This fungal infection is caused by high levels of humidity and is inevitable in my vegetable garden beds. It also attacks all the other members of the cucurbit family and also peas.
Small outbreaks can be treated with a spray of full fat milk mixed with water and sprayed liberally over the plants. Larger outbreaks are best dealt with by removing the affected leaves or plants completely and destroying them, not composting.
Avoid overhead watering as this greatly increases the risk of infection, as does overcrowded beds that cause poor air circulation.