Growing Zucchini

Growing zucchini is a piece of cake; every garden should have a few plants.

You do need reasonably warm night-temperatures for the seed to germinate. This spring has been very cold with snow on the Drakensberg and in October only two plants are up; that is disappointing.

We should have put some into seed-boxes in a warm spot.

This page was last updated by Dr Bernard Preston on the 8th November, 2020; it is springtime in the deep south and the first zucchini fruit are forming.

zucchini basket

Also known as summer squash, courgettes and baby-marrows, these are one of the most rewarding vegetables you can grow in your garden.

They are easy to grow, produce fruit in a relatively short time, and go on for months bringing you their nutritious benefits.

They have more flavour in my opinion that pattipans, but less than gem-squash which should also find favour in your garden.

It's winter squash, or butternut, that have a very long growing-season, but then they keep for months during the cold in your cellar.

Summer squash do not last like butternut do; eat them straight from the garden.

As a variation, I like to slice some thinly sometimes into my Eggs Florentine; on a bed of spinach.

Queen of the green garden, of course, is not growing zucchini, or butternut or beans, but the compost pile; at the heart of organic gardening is this lovely coarse black stuff.

Growing zucchini do not lend themselves to a fence as do gems and butternut. We have a large raised area, a couple metres across, perhaps a foot-deep in compost; plant the seeds around the edge of your mound. They germinate very quickly once soil temperatures have risen, but do keep them moist initially.

You could thin them, perhaps, but I don't.

organic compost

Growing Zucchini

Before you know it, you will have vigorous looking plants like these. Honeybees love to visit the bright yellow flowers of growing zucchini and it's perhaps in part due to the hives in a corner of the garden that we have such prolific pollination, and a huge crop.

These zucchini seedlings when mature will supply the fruit that will prevent a beta carotene deficiency.
Growing zucchini excess

It is at times of glut like this that patients love their chiropractor; it is not always like that. Manipulative treatment is not particularly painful, but when dealing with the very acute neck or lower back for example, some pain is inevitable. It's nice to be able to send them home with two or three and a few words on how to cook zucchini.

Of course I am also hoping they will see one of Bernard Preston's book whilst picking up one of the excess growing zucchini that we produce. You could buy one too from Amazon.

If you read just one book a month, you will probably fall short of a thousand in your whole life, and most likely nearer 500. Enjoying a good book is like having a private conversation with the author.

If you are enjoying, then perhaps I can invite you to a journey through the polders of Holland. That's how you can support this site, and enrich your own life with some easy bedside reading and stepping up to greater well-being.

My books are available from Amazon on Kindle.

Half a dozen zucchini plants like this will supply all the beta-carotene you need.

Before long, young fruit start appearing. We start eating them when about five to six inches long in our zucchini salad recipes. Soft and succulent, they add variety to any side-dish.

Even the zucchini flowers are very pleasant when fried.

By and large the huge zucchini leaves keep the weeds back, but the are always a few pesky blighters looking for a place in the sun. I simply pluck them as I'm reaping the fruit.

If they get away from you, and they might if you have more than one or two plants, then the giants are perfect for that all-time favourite, zucchini bread; more about that later.

How to grow zucchini

A bucketful of compost, three of four seeds and about six-weeks of patience is all it takes; got that in your life?

Zucchini plants fruit

Give them to your friends and neighbours during the high season, in January and February in the Southern hemisphere. I always wonder why everyone doesn't drop a couple seeds in the garden. Nothing could be easier.

Glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate is absorbed into the blood stream. High GI foods cause a spike in your insulin levels, depositing the glucose as adipose.

A glycemic index of less than 55 is consider low GI; that of zucchini is below 15.

It is essential to include at least one low GI carb in each meal, particularly if you have bread, potato, rice or a sweet in the meal; it lowers the overall glycemic index of the whole meal.

The Banting diet aims to limit all carbohydrate from the diet as a way of losing weight; it works, but I have serious reservations. Instead we have come up with a modified form that allows low GI starches, fruit, vegetables and legumes. It is a much more effective way of shedding those extra pounds; it's sustainable. Can you really give up the staff of life for ever; do you actually need to?

It is the refined carbohydrates like most breads, cakes and colas that make us fat; and cookies too.

As a general rule, adding fat and protein to a carbohydrate lowers the glycemic index. Also, steaming a vegetable instead of roasting it, further lowers the GI. Enjoy your zucchini with a little butter and hummus if you are banting.

Zucchini benefits

We have mentioned just a few of the vegetable's greatest benefits on this growing zucchini page; elsewhere, on another I will explore the many other good things. Come back in a week or so.

Meantime start planning a spot in the garden where, in the spring, you are going to be growing zucchini. Have fun.


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Macular degeneration

Five million Americans are needlessly blind because of a deficiency of two phytochemicals called lutein and zeaxanthin that are found in very high concentrations in the central part of the retina; and many more are partially sighted.

Normally one thinks of lutein from your greens, and zeaxanthin from corn, citrus and egg yolks.

Your zucchini squash is almost unique in being a rich source of both lutein and zeaxanthin. Enjoy them right through the summer for protection against the most common cause of age-related blindness after 55.

Easy zucchini bread recipe

The fun part of cooking to try a bit of this and that; making those recipes your own. It's the creative part as compared with rote learning; necessary but definitely grade one.

This easy zucchini bread recipe is one of my more successful experiments; you will need a bread machine. Less than ten minutes' work, followed by five patient hours whilst yeast, honey and starch do their thing; with a cup of grated zucchini today.

I did not decrease the water enough obviously; hence the loaf sank quite badly.

zucchini bread recipe

Little patches

Little patches in the vegetable garden are a good place for growing zucchini.

Every green home needs little patches of veggies like this; it is quite different to growing for the market; that way you would end up with 200 lettuces in a row most of which would go to waste, or the hens.

Plant small patches like this with repeated frequent sowings. On the right is a mound, almost out of sight, with the first zucchini of the Spring. They might eventually shade some of these plants out, but no matter, we will have had a good harvest by then of lettuce, spring onions and parsley.

It is all about delicious fresh salads, and having a shot at ten coloured foods most days. With red and green lettuce here, not easily seen, these will already give you four in your lunch.

Choice foods

Nutritious choice foods is what gives you an honest chance of reaching a vibrant eighty with all your marbles intact; growing zucchini is just one of them. Now we are aiming higher; since reading about Blue Zone longevity it's ninety-plus or bust.

Growing zucchini is just one small part of making sure you get 8 to 10 coloured foods into your diet every day; frankly it is easy once your mind is made up. We often get closer to 15 and even 20. A sprig of parsley here, eggs Florentine and prunes for breakfast, hummus on a green salad for lunch, and zucchinis and beetroot for dinner; it is really not difficult.

Once your mind is made up that you're really tired of all those pills and visits to the doctor, it becomes easy. Until you reach that point, then it is more difficult.

Lunch autumn with zucchini slithers.

The wonder of worm farms

The wonder of worm farms is not exaggeration; in just one year, given enough food, one thousand worms will turn into two tons of creepy crawlies. Dinkum, and you can use them for a rich liquid fertilizer, compost for the garden and even food for your chickens; the particularly love growing zucchini that have been infected with bugs. 

Chickens in the garden

Chicken tractor design is not where you should start as a beginner organic gardener. But once you're established, your own chickens add a nitrogen rich fertiliser to the garden, and golden yellow eggs for the table. Growing zucchini is so much simpler when you have the right plant medium.

It's worth a thought if you have a large garden. Chickens in the garden are a big step forwards but some planning is important, and they are quite a lot of work.

They are enormously helpful in cleaning up the bugs in the garden that sting your growing zucchini, for example; we've been able to grow beans again since the hens arrived.

The Mexican bean beetle larvae devastated our crop for a few years, but the birds break their reproduction cycle.

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Hilton, KZN

South Africa