The most important thing to consider when planting your zucchini is how long your growing season is and how long it will take for a particular variety to be ready for harvest. Check your local weather information to determine the first and last frost dates for your area, and choose a variety that will have plenty of time to mature and produce.
There are dozens of different varieties of zucchini, ranging from round green heirloom varieties to golden-speckled hybrids. Some of the most popular are listed below, along with the time to first harvest. Keep in mind that most types of zucchini will continue to produce for weeks after those first fruits are ready.
- Black Beauty: 50 days
- Fordhook: 57 days
- Dunja: 47 days
- Gadzukes: 55 days
- Gourmet Gold: 55 days
- Magda: 48 days
- Patio Star: 50 day
- Golden Egg: 41 days
- Round De Nice: 50 days
Zucchini are not tolerant of cold, so it’s important to time your planting to avoid the lowest spring and autumn temperatures. Frost will kill young seedlings, and will cause even mature plants to wither and die if they are not protected.
The best way to keep young plants safe from cold is to wait to sow seeds until after the soil temperatures have reached 60°F (15°C). While you’re waiting for the soil to warm up, you can prepare it for seeds with added nutrients and compost.
If your growing season is short, you can start your zucchini seedlings indoors. Since zucchini are susceptible to transplant shock, it’s important to sow your seeds in biodegradable planters or peat pots that can be planted directly into your garden without disturbing the seedlings’ roots.
Start seeds indoors no more than 4-6 weeks before you’ll be ready to move them outdoors. When the danger of frost has passed, acclimate your seedlings to the garden by allowing them to spend first days, then nights, in a sheltered outdoor space. Be sure to keep them well watered during this process to minimize stress.
Zucchini plants are particularly susceptible to several pests, including vine borers and cucumber beetles. One of the best ways to defeat these troublesome bugs is to delay your planting date. The larvae of these insects overwinter in your soil, emerging as adults early in spring. By delaying your planting of zucchini and other squash, you can force any of these nasty pests lurking in your garden to move on in search of greener pastures.