Am I the only one that thinks zucchini grows like a weed? So as long as you give your zucchini ample water and sunshine, it seems to grow like wild on its own and without much help. Not only is zucchini fairly easy to grow, but a couple of plants will give a family of four all of the zucchini it can handle and more.
With that said, many people start their zucchini from plants purchased at a local home or garden center, and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, you can save yourself and your family money by starting your zucchini from seed. As you will see, it is easier than you think, and the results will be the same.
Let’s start with the cost savings. One zucchini plant (depending on how mature it is) can cost anywhere from $0.50 to $3.00. Of course there are a variety of factors that play into that cost, however, a pack of about 20 zucchini seeds will run you anywhere form $1 to $3. Again costs depend on a variety of factors, such as organic or non-organic, seed companies and so on. Already you can see the savings, and in today’s economy every little bit helps.
So how do you turn these cost saving seeds into zucchini producing plants? Here are some tips to help increase your success rate:
The best place to start your seeds are indoors about two to four weeks prior to the last frost date in your area. What you will need is a window sill that receives plenty of sunlight. To ensure the success rate of your seeds you can invest in a humidity dome or make your own. This will help keep your seeds in a constant temperature even when temps drop in your house overnight. Many people use heating pads and grow lights to give their seeds that extra push, all items which work great, but if you are on a budget, time is your best investment.
Zucchini seeds are fairly large, therefore can be planted a bit deeper than say a tomato seed. Push the seed into your starter soil about an inch down.
Now that your seeds are going you should be concentrating on getting their final growing place prepared for their arrival. Of course this is something that you should be working on throughout the year with composting methods, but you can still get it ready in time.
The pH level of your soil should be a bit more acidic in a the 6.0 to 6.5 range. If you find your soil to be a bit more alkaline (over 7.0 on the scale) you can use a number of products to reduce that level such as organic mulch or sphagnum peat to name a couple.
Zucchini love the heat so about a week to ten days prior to moving your plants outdoors you will want to “warm” up the soil, especially if the temperatures in your area are still a little on the cooler side. The best way to do this is to cover the area with 6mil clear plastic tarp.
Your seeds are now plants. They are thriving and are ready to be moved to the outdoors. Your soil is ready to go at the correct pH level and the soil is the right temperature. So now what? You want to give your zucchini enough room to grow and thrive. Zucchini plants can get fairly large so make sure that when you plant them you space them out at least eighteen inches. You might be able to get away with twelve, but that would make it very tight.
Make sure you zucchini plants receive plenty of water and plenty of sun. They require lots of nitrogen so do not be afraid to throw some fresh grass clippings around the base of your plants every so often. There are also plenty of organic fertilizers on the market that you could use as well. Of course, if you added compost to your soil throughout the year, these steps would more than likely, not be necessary.
The last time I looked, zucchini runs about $1.29 per pound. Which is about one and half of store bought zucchini (your store’s selection might differ). If you have ever grown zucchini then you already know one plant will produce ten times that, sometimes even more....a lot more! Just make sure you cut off the zucchini when they reach twelve to fourteen inches in length. If they get too long they will be very seedy.
Now go out there and grow six zucchini plants. You will be able to feed your family and possibly the entire neighborhood!
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the administrator for the largest Vegetable Gardening page on Facebook. Join in the vegetable gardening conversation today with your Facebook account and find out how you can get 2 packs of seeds absolutely free.