Grow

How to grow zucchinis and squash

Nov Wk2

If you’re starting off with vegies for the first time, you’ll find growing the members of the pumpkin family easy and rewarding. While pumpkins themselves are slow to get to picking stage, the related zucchinis and squash produce satisfyingly fast results.

Varieties

Yates seed range has a selection of three zucchinis and three different squashes, so there’s plenty of choice. Zucchini Blackjack, the traditional favourite with thin, dark green skin, is best harvested when between 10 and 15 cm long. Watch that they don’t grow too big, or they’ll end up tasteless and watery. With zucchinis, bigger is definitely not better!

Greyzini zucchini is a similar shape to Blackjack but has attractive, grey-green mottled skin. Lebanese zucchini (pictured) has light grey-green, stubby, teardrop-shaped fruit with a mild, pleasant flavour.

Yellow Buttons squash is a new variety in the Yates seed range. It’s very versatile and can be used for baking, steaming, stirfries and salads. The tender fruit can be eaten whole and require minimal preparation before use – just wash and trim the stem end – and the colour enhances the appearance of any dish. Green Buttons has a similar shape, or you can try the lucky dip selection in the Yates Mixed Squash.

Sowing

Zucchinis and squash grow best in a sunny, well-drained position that’s been improved beforehand by digging in some Yates Blood & Bone and compost. Build the soil up into mounds about 70cm apart, and water well. Next day sow two seeds into the top of each mound and, if both emerge, remove the weaker (this doubles your chances of success).

Put a layer of mulch around the plants. Ideally this should be something relatively dry like straw or lucerne hay. These will hold moisture in the soil and keep the fruit up off the wet ground. Make sure the plants don’t dry out, but always water at the base, keeping the leaves as dry as possible.

Problems

It’s important that the leaves stay dry as all members of this family are susceptible to powdery mildew which, like most fungal diseases, is kicked off in moist conditions.

Yates Nature’s Way Insect & Mite Killer Natrasoap will control common sap-sucking pests like aphids and whitefly without leaving toxic residues. Dipel is a good solution for caterpillar problems.

Zucchini and squash belong to the group of plants that have separate male and female flowers. Look for the female flowers – they’re the ones with the mini fruit at the base – and transfer across some pollen from male flower. That will increase the chances of fruit set and crop success.

Most important tip – pick fruit when young!



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