Growing your own vegetables is a highly rewarding and passionately gratifying experience. And zucchinis have a way of just amplifying things. Last year I grew organic zucchinis that rivalled any and all grocery store zucchinis. They were giant and lush plants that took over half my garden. But, they produced over 20 zucchinis from just two plants and these were between 12” and 16” long. Let me tell you how I did it.
In this quick reference guide, you’ll learn how to grow giant and healthy Organic Black Beauty Zucchini with minimal effort and minimal initial expense. Zucchini is actually called Cucurbita pepo by the science world, but around here the type we grow is called Black Beauty. I grow the plant and save some seeds too. Just follow a few good tricks included in this article and you’ll have free seeds for years to come.
We’ll start with seeds and end with the winter when the plant is done for the year. It seems fitting to go in that particular order, don’t you think? You will notice several links throughout this article. These are items readily available from Amazon which you will need for this grow, or that I strongly recommend for the process. I make a penny here or there from this, but hey, someone’s got to pay for my next bag of dirt, right? And you don’t have to click and buy what I recommend either, but I do recommend it. 😉
What You Will Need
- 1 Organic Black Beauty Zucchini Seed
- 1 x 4” Pot
- 4 Bags Organic Garden Soil
- 1 Bag Organic Peat Moss
- 1 Liter of vegetable kitchen scraps (fruit, vegetables, and fish are good)
- An area that gets full sun and is at least 4’ x 4’
- Several Months of Patience
- An Appetite For Zucchini
- A Shovel or Gardening Kit
- A Wheelbarrow (not vital but preferred)
- A Knife
Seeds – Sowing The Future
The first thing you’re going to need to do is get yourself some seeds. I’m always going to recommend you shop local, but that isn’t always easy or possible. In case you can’t find any organic seeds locally you can find organic black beauty zucchini seeds here. Those are from Amazon, and they were decent when I got some. These weren’t the ones in the pictures in this article, I was able to source those seeds from a local farmer who has an organic farm. But, they will do the job all the same I imagine.
When you first have the seeds, it’s good to start them in nice light fluffy soil for sprouting and initial growth, before we transplant outside in the garden. But I’ll get to that after sprouting.
What I like to do for my zucchini seeds, and it’s worked really well, is make what I call my special sprouting mix. Open one of your bags of organic soil and mix it in a 60:40 ratio of organic dirt with your organic peat moss. You can also use some organic coconut husk in place of some of the peat, but the pictures show that peat works just fine.
Take your mix and fill your 4” pot with dirt. Don’t pack it down much, just a little. We want it nice and light and fluffy.
Now, take your seed and soak it in warm water for about ten minutes. Then, take the seed and gently poke it into the centre of your pot of dirt. Make sure it’s about a quarter inch (half a centimeter) below the surface. Lightly push a little dirt to cover it.
Now water the pot. I like to first water it via a sprayer like this one. Again, this one is from Amazon, but it works really well, so I thought it deserved being mentioned. This way you don’t dig a hole into the dirt with a stream of water. I like this particular sprayer because it has a handy strap and wand. It even comes with some extra o-rings in case one gets messed up.
Anyway, the little seed won’t take long, check it daily and keep it moist but not soaked. I like to throw a bit of plastic wrap over the pot. That way it holds in the moisture and I can see the sprout pushing up from the soil. Once it’s poking it’s little self up through the dirt, I remove the plastic wrap.
Here’s my sprouting station. I only use steel shelving because it’s strong and easy to maintain. This unit is one I picked up off Amazon and you can too right here. It’s a decent unit as you can see, strong and does the job for less than $100, which is nice. I’m pretty cheap so having a solid product for a good price is important to me. Anyway, getting back to the sprouts.
For a couple of days, after it peeks up from the surface, you don’t need to give it much light if any at all. Just make sure it stays moist but not wet. This is a critical time as the sprout is just a little plant and weak.
Within a few days you’ll see some leaves starting and a nice green color. This is when I move it from my sprouting area to under my lights.
Before I get into prepping the outside bed, which should be started soon because of the compost, I’d like to just mention the lights I use in my nursery.
I bought these lights off Amazon a couple of years back when I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on expensive lighting equipment. I saw these sold in a local big box store, so I didn’t have a whole lot of faith at the time, but they were reasonably priced lights and LED. So, I went ahead and ordered my first Root Farm All-Purpose LED Grow Light, as you can see in the picture below.
When I first bought this light, I was skeptical. I mean, I needed something I could grow microgreens and wheatgrass with. I did not think I would be growing tomatoes, zucchinis, cucumbers and other vegetables with this light. But hey, live and learn, right?
You’re going to place the little sprout under the lights and make sure it’s about 6” from the light. This will encourage the little plant to reach up towards the light and grow strong.
Pro Tip: Use a small fan in the area to circulate the air. This does two really good things. First, it helps young sprouts grow stronger stems, setting them up for success. Second, it helps to prevent mold growth which typically occurs in damp, stale conditions. The only downside is you’ll need to keep an eye on watering and make sure there isn’t so much breeze the soil dries out.
I use a little usb fan with a clip. It’s pretty much identical to this fan here at Amazon. I bought mine in a completely boring and common corner store. I don’t think there was a brand on it. It’s pretty cheap. But this one from Amazon is the same sort of size but a lot better quality than the one I have.
Getting back to your sprout, keep the soil moist for the first five days and let it dry out a bit on days six and seven. Go back to keeping it moist but not wet and letting it dry for the weekend as I like to call it. This seems to produce a beneficial effect on the plants. And remember to keep the lights on a timer so it’s easier to deal with. You’ll want a half decent timer like this one, again from our favorite online retailer, Amazon. I like this one for two reasons. First, you can set up your timer and put your lights on it. Then, you can plug in your fan to the normal side and you’ve got your whole grow station powered by one power bar. I think it’s smart. Anyway, you’ll want something along those lines.
Grow the little sprout for about a month before you put it outside. If it’s anything like mine, you won’t want it indoors any longer than that. And it will become root bound in the small pot if we don’t transfer it. But, soon after you get the seed sprouted, you should prep your bed outside. I like to do this about a month in advance if possible. Where I live, the rule is don’t plant most plants outside before the end of May.
I’m a bit gardening crazy, so I start my zucchinis inside in early April. That gives them nearly two months indoors before I transplant them outside. But really, you could get away with only a month. I just like to get them set up early because I selectively take the stronger, healthier plants for outside and sacrifice the weak to the compost gods. I collect the seeds each year and want to ensure next year’s crop comes from strong and healthy plants. Anyway, moving along to our bed prep.
Prepping The Bed Outside
As I mentioned, where I live we don’t put most plants out until the end of May. That pretty much ensures no more frost. That being said, I prep my garden beds usually in mid April after everything is nice and thawed and wet. I live where we have harsh winters and lots of snow, so the ground is always mushy in the springtime. So, I wait until about mid April.
Then what I do is go to where I want to make my bed, in this case for the organic black beauty zucchini we’re discussing. Taking my gardening set, I’ll go and dig up about a two foot by two foot area for one plant. That area will be about a foot deep. I discard this dirt by using it in my 3 year compost staging bin. That way in three years, it should be relatively safe to use again.
Getting back to our hole in the ground, here’s where that liter of kitchen compost comes in. If you have some fish heads, great, those work fantastic. But either way, just toss that into the hole. Now, using your wheelbarrow, mix the dirt and peat moss in a 60% dirt, 40% peat moss ratio and fill the hole. Pack it down hard and top it up. Pack it down again and top it up again, making sure that it’s a raised area above the ground around where you dug up. This will sit and hopefully get rained on a few times over the next month. If there is no rain, make sure you water the dirt weekly. You’ve got to help the natural microbes find their balance. Just like a fish tank needs time to settle before you put fish in it, so dirt’s biome must settle before you put your plants in it. At least, that’s my philosophy and it’s worked so far.
Transplanting The Plants
Because the dirt you sprouted in the plant is the same as the dirt you’re transplanting it to, there’s no real fear of a big root shock or anything. But, you do want to make sure that the prepared bed has had time to settle (I like a month) and that there is no fear of any frost at night. If all is well, it’s time to transplant the organic black beauty zucchini outside in the garden.
When you transplant, first make sure you water the plant the night before. Not a huge watering, but a nice moistening we’ll say. Then on transplant day, you’ll gently massage the pot of the plant, (hopefully it’s semi-flexible so you can actually do this). You don’t need to do it a lot, just enough to loosen the dirt around the edges of the pot so it slides out easily.
Head on out to your garden and dig a small hole in the centre of your prepared bed. Make the hole a couple inches wider, but only a little deeper than the height of your pot.
To remove the plant and dirt, place your hand over the dirt at the top of the pot. You’ll carefully hold the plant secure between your fingers by your knuckles as you cup the pot with your hand like a lid. Using your other hand to hold the pot, slowly turn the pot and plant upside down so the plant and dirt is supported by your hand that is holding it like a lid on the pot. Carefully and gently shake as you remove the pot from the dirt with your other hand. You will likely see all kinds of organic black beauty zucchini roots massed at the bottom, holding the dirt together.
Gently rub the roots to free only those ends that are on the outside of the dirt. This will start their orientation outwards. Gently turn the plant over and place it in the hole you prepared. Then carefully backfill in soil until the plant’s roots are nicely covered. Pack down gently and give the plant a light watering if you are doing the transplant in the morning. Otherwise, wait until the following day to water. You don’t want wet soil sitting overnight so don’t overwater. Ideally you will have chosen a location in full sun with good drainage.
That’s pretty much it. If you’ve gotten this far with the plant, then the rest is a breeze. Just make sure you have a cycle of moist and dry, and the plant will grow like crazy. The important thing is to let the area dry out. Zucchini is susceptible to powdery mildew if it’s really humid or the soil is too wet. Take a look at my article about Powdery Mildew and how to fix it.
And don’t forget to save some of those seeds! Let one of your zucchinis stay on the plant until really ripe, then cut it and harvest your seeds. I just dig them out of the fruit and let them dry for one day on some plastic wrap. The next day they are dry, I stick them in a sealing plastic bag and save them for next year’s use. I’ve done that for years and haven’t purchased zucchini seeds in many years using these techniques.
I don’t really need one. I’ve grown this myself for years. But, I did reference Wikipedia for the latin name for zucchini so here you go:
- Zucchini, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zucchini, Accessed April 23, 2020.
- Shantz, Jeremy, Zucchini Growing In Real Life – An Experience, Shared Information Network, Farm 6 Media, 2020.
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