Growing Zucchini - Evergreen Leadership Academy

Origin Story

Zucchini is believed to have originated in the Americas, specifically in what is now Mexico and Central America, and was domesticated by the indigenous people of the region over 10,000 years ago.

The early zucchini looked quite different from the ones we see today. They were smaller, rounder, and had a tough, bitter skin. The indigenous people of the Americas used them in a variety of ways, including roasting, boiling, and grinding them into a paste to make bread.

It wasn’t until the 16th century, when Spanish explorers brought the zucchini back to Europe, that it began to gain popularity. The Italians were among the first to embrace this new vegetable, and they named it “zucchino,” which means “little gourd” in Italian. Over time, the name was anglicized to “zucchini,” which is what we know it as today.

The zucchini quickly became a favorite vegetable in Mediterranean cuisine and was soon cultivated throughout Europe. In the 19th century, it made its way to North America, where it was initially grown mainly for its ornamental value. However, it didn’t take long for people to realize that zucchini was not only beautiful but also delicious and nutritious.

Today, zucchini is widely cultivated and enjoyed around the world. It is low in calories and high in fiber, making it a popular choice for those trying to maintain a healthy diet. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium.

But zucchini isn’t just nutritious, it’s also versatile. It can be grilled, roasted, sautéed, or even spiralized to make “zoodles” – a healthy alternative to traditional pasta. It can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, from zucchini bread to zucchini fritters.

And let’s not forget about the size of some of these zucchinis! The world record for the largest zucchini ever grown weighed in at a whopping 65 pounds and was over five feet long. That’s enough zucchini to feed an entire village!

The zucchini has come a long way from its humble beginnings in the Americas. From its early use by indigenous peoples to its introduction to Europe and eventual worldwide popularity, the zucchini has proven to be a versatile and nutritious vegetable that is here to stay. So next time you see a zucchini in your grocery store or at your local farmer’s market, take a moment to appreciate the rich history and delicious potential of this amazing vegetable.

Let’s Get Scientific

The zucchini plant, also known as Cucurbita pepo, is a type of summer squash that is part of the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes cucumbers, melons, and pumpkins.  It is a vine that can grow up to several feet long and produces both male and female flowers.

The zucchini plant is a vine that can grow up to several feet long and produces both male and female flowers. The flowers are bright yellow and are a vital part of the plant’s reproductive cycle.  Male flowers typically grow on long, thin stalks, while female flowers have a small, swollen ovary at their base. The ovary will eventually develop into the zucchini fruit if it is fertilized by pollen from a male flower.  Male flowers have a single stem, possess pollen, and do not produce fruit, while female flowers have multiple stems.

There are several different varieties of zucchini, each with its unique characteristics. The most common variety is green zucchini, which has a dark green skin. Yellow zucchini has a bright yellow skin and a slightly sweeter taste than green zucchini. Round zucchini has a spherical shape and can come in either green or yellow. Lebanese zucchini has a light green skin and a slightly nutty flavor. Italian zucchini has a light green skin with faint white stripes and a sweet, delicate flavor.

When it comes to the seeds, they are found in the center of the zucchini and are a vital part of the plant’s reproductive cycle. If given the right conditions, the seeds will eventually grow into new zucchini plants.  A single zucchini can produce hundreds of seeds, which can be harvested, dried, and used to grow new zucchini plants.

Growing Tips

  1. Choose a sunny location: As mentioned earlier, zucchini plants require plenty of sunlight to grow and produce fruit. In addition, a sunny location helps dry out the soil, which can prevent fungal diseases.
  2. Prepare the soil: In addition to adding organic matter, it’s important to ensure that the soil is well-draining. This can be accomplished by adding coarse sand or perlite to the soil mix. Zucchini plants are heavy feeders, so it’s important to provide them with plenty of nutrients. Adding a slow-release fertilizer to the soil before planting can help ensure that the plants have a steady supply of nutrients throughout the growing season.  Our go to supplier for all our soil needs is Purelife Soil.
  3. Companion planting: There are many companion plants that can be planted alongside zucchini to help repel pests and attract beneficial insects. Garlic contains sulfur compounds that repel pests such as aphids, while peas fix nitrogen in the soil, which can benefit the zucchini plants. Mint has a strong scent that can repel pests and can also attract beneficial insects such as predatory wasps. When planting garlic as a companion to zucchini, it’s best to plant it in the fall or early spring, as it takes a long time to mature. Peas can be planted in the same bed as zucchini in the early spring, and can also be used as a cover crop during the winter months to help improve soil fertility. Mint can be planted in containers near the zucchini plants or in a separate area of the garden. Some additional examples of companion plants include:
    • Borage: Attracts beneficial insects such as bees and predatory wasps, and can repel tomato hornworms and cabbage worms.
    • Dill: Attracts beneficial insects such as ladybugs and lacewings, and can repel aphids and spider mites.
    • Radishes: Can help repel cucumber beetles and squash bugs.
    • Sunflowers: Attract beneficial insects such as bees and ladybugs, and can provide shade for the zucchini plants during hot weather.
  1. Water regularly: In addition to watering deeply once or twice a week, it’s important to avoid getting water on the leaves of the zucchini plants. This can promote fungal diseases such as powdery mildew.
  2. Mulch around the plants: Organic mulch can help prevent weeds from competing with the zucchini plants for water and nutrients. In addition, mulch can help regulate soil temperature and prevent moisture loss.
  3. Fertilize appropriately: In addition to starting with rich soil, it’s important to monitor plant growth throughout the season and provide additional nutrients if necessary.  Organic compost, worm castings, seaweed extract, and other organic nutrients work well.  A common strategy to ensure adequate nutrients is adding a side-dressing of compost or aged manure around the base of the plants.
  4. Provide support: Providing support for the zucchini plants can help prevent the heavy fruit from pulling the plant down to the ground. A trellis, stake, or cage can be used for support.  Growing zucchini vertically is highly recommended to improve fertilization, reduce powdery mildew, and increase yields. It is best to stake early and loosely tie the plant to the stake every few inches.
  5. Manual pollination: Zucchini plants have separate male and female flowers, and sometimes need help with pollination. In addition to using a paintbrush or cotton swab to transfer pollen from the male flower to the female flower, it’s important to do this early in the day when the flowers are fully open.
  6. Pest control: Keep an eye out for common zucchini pests such as squash bugs, cucumber beetles, and vine borers. Squash bugs can be picked off by hand and drowned in soapy water, while cucumber beetles can be controlled with neem oil or insecticidal soap. To prevent vine borers, cover the base of the plant with a floating row cover (a versatile material)  until flowers appear. In addition to the pests mentioned above, zucchini plants can also be susceptible to fungal diseases such as powdery mildew. Regularly weeding around the plants can help improve air circulation and prevent the development of mildew. In addition, spraying the leaves of the plants with a mixture of one part milk to nine parts water can help prevent mildew from taking hold. If mildew does appear, it’s important to remove the affected leaves immediately to prevent further spread. In addition to the milk spray mentioned earlier, a solution of baking soda and water can also help prevent mildew from taking hold. Simply mix one tablespoon of baking soda with one quart of water and spray the leaves of the plants.
  7. Harvest frequently: Zucchini plants can produce a lot of fruit in a short amount of time, so it’s important to harvest frequently to encourage continued fruit production. Overripe zucchini can become bitter and tough, so it’s important to pick the fruit when it’s still young and tender.
  8. Prune the plants: Zucchini plants can become quite large and bushy. Pruning the plants will help improve air circulation and prevent the development of fungal diseases. Pinch off any side shoots or leaves that are touching the ground, and remove any yellow or diseased leaves. Cutting 30 to 40 percent of the plant’s leaves is common practice to encourage vertical growth, prevent disease, improve air flow, encourage pollination, and improve productivity. Prune lower leaves and overlapping leaves often.  Be sure to cut the leaves close to the main stem.  Otherwise, the tube like structures will provide refuge for unwelcome insects.  The number one reason zucchini plants fizzle out mid summer is because of lack of pruning.  Taking care of your zucchini plant can ensure it will produce all summer long.
  9. Crop rotation: Rotating crops is an important practice for any vegetable garden, and zucchini is no exception. Planting zucchini in the same location year after year can lead to a buildup of soil-borne diseases, pests, and nutrient deficiencies. To avoid these problems, it’s best to rotate your zucchini plants to a new location each year. Plan ahead and rotate your zucchini plants to ensure a healthy and bountiful harvest year after year.


  1. Zucchini Parmesan: This classic Italian dish is made by coating sliced zucchini in breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, then baking until golden brown and crispy. Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.
  2. Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai: Swap traditional rice noodles for zucchini noodles in this healthy version of the classic Thai dish. Toss with a tangy peanut sauce, crunchy veggies, and your choice of protein.
  3. Stuffed Zucchini Boats: Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the center to create a “boat.” Fill with a mixture of ground meat, rice, vegetables, and cheese, then bake until tender and bubbly.
  4. Zucchini Fritters: Grate zucchini and mix with eggs, flour, and seasoning to make a batter. Fry in oil until crispy and golden brown, then serve with a dollop of sour cream or tzatziki sauce.
  5. Zucchini Lasagna: Layer thinly sliced zucchini with ricotta cheese, marinara sauce, and shredded mozzarella for a low-carb twist on classic lasagna.
  6. Zucchini and Sweet Potato Hash: Saute diced zucchini and sweet potatoes in a skillet with onions, garlic, and your favorite herbs and spices for a healthy and satisfying breakfast or brunch.
  7. Grilled Zucchini Salad: Slice zucchini lengthwise and grill until tender and slightly charred. Toss with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, and a lemony vinaigrette for a refreshing summer salad.
  8. Zucchini Bread: Combine grated zucchini with flour, sugar, eggs, and spices to make a moist and flavorful quick bread. Add nuts or chocolate chips for an extra indulgent treat.
  9. Zucchini Flower Frittata: Beat eggs with grated zucchini, chopped herbs, and crumbled feta cheese. Pour the mixture into a skillet, then add zucchini flowers on top. Cook until the bottom is set, then transfer to the oven to finish cooking until the top is golden brown.
  10. Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Lemon and Parmesan: Use a vegetable peeler to make long ribbons of raw zucchini. Toss with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper, then top with shaved Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh herbs.