How and When To Pick Zucchini

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Growing zucchini in your garden is very easy, and a lot of fun. Once your plants become established, and start blooming – the race is on! Zucchini can grow very quickly, sometimes growing from a 3 inch tiny fruit to an 18 inch monster in just a couple days. Make sure you keep an eye on your growing zucchini once they bloom – I generally check on mine once a day, but no less than every other day.

When To Pick Zucchini

Most zucchini varieties are ready to pick when they reach lengths around six to twelve inches long. They can be longer or shorter depending on your variety and preferences. I try to stick to the “pick early, pick often” rule to encourage more production.

The zucchini should be a dark green color (color can depend on the variety of zucchini you are growing. There are yellow and even white colored zucchini. Check your seed pack or plant tag for the mature color of your particular zucchini), and be firm to the touch. If your zucchini feels mushy or soft, it could be starting to rot.

Zucchini plants can get very large, and have very broad leaves. This can make it very difficult to spot zucchini until it is too late, and you have something that resembles a caveman club. Be sure to check under leaves thoroughly for hiding zucchini.

Be careful when moving the leaves around on the zucchini plant. The stalks of the leaves are very easy to break, so be gentle when moving leaves around while zucchini hunting.

How To Pick Zucchini

So, you go out to your zucchini plants looking for a nice one to pick. You look around and to your disappointment do not see any that are ready.

Zucchini Plant

Wait a minute – remember to check under those big leaves.

Zucchini That Is Ready for Picking

Aha! There’s a very nice zucchini just waiting to be harvested hiding under all those leaves! I can not tell you how many times I have missed a nice zucchini like this one because I did not check around the leaves enough, only to go back out to the garden a day later to find a behemoth monster. Make sure you check around the leaves thoroughly.

Now that you have found that perfect zucchini, it is time to pick it. Sometimes the zucchini plant can get very big with stems and leaves running everywhere, making it difficult to reach the zucchini. This is the way I pick those hard to reach zucchini.

First, I grab the zucchini by the end where the blossom is/was. Usually this is the fattest part of the zucchini and the best place for grip.

Grab the Zucchini Firmly

Now give the zucchini a gentle and easy twist. Do not yank on it, just give it a nice, slow twist. Normally twisting it 90 to 180 degrees will do the trick.

Give the Zucchini a Quick Twist

You should hear a clear, crisp POP! while slowly twisting the zucchini. You have just snapped the zucchini from the plant.

Harvested Zucchini

Sometimes the zucchini will not snap off like you really want it to, such as the picture above. See how it snapped a chunk off the top of the zucchini? Ideally, you want the zucchini to snap off leaving part of the stem on, like the one below. It doesn’t hurt the zucchini any by doing this, but it will cause the broken end to wilt faster unless it is consumed in a day or two.

End of Harvested Zucchini

This is how I pick my zucchini, if you have a different method, then please share it. I would love to hear how you pick your zucchini.

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Comments

  1. Hi :) My zucchini looked like it was getting ready to be picked. Google took me to your blog post and it answered my questions thoroughly. Thank you!

  2. Thanks for these tips. This summer was the first time I grew zucchini and some of the leaves were looking yellow (not enough water, too much?) so I picked off those leaves to let in sunlight and free up some space. Is this okay to do? Should I just let nature take its course? Thanks!

    • I have the same issue.. I picked them off as well.. How do you know what to do with the flowers? do they just fall off when the zucchini is ready?

  3. I really enjoyed this helpful and fun description! Thank you – I needed help…and I’ve got a zucchini that I think may be getting a bit carried away in size – becoming the dreaded behemoth you mentioned!

  4. Thank you so much for your wonderful information. The pictures are also very helpful. Please keep the information coming.

  5. Tammy Lockhart says:

    I just want to thank you for you website. My husband and I just recently purchased a new home that had a wonderful garden plot. It was my first time ever planting a garden and I am totally awed by the growth. Thank you for proving answers that I despertly needed!

  6. Thank you for your post about this… I have a behemoth zucchini that needs to be picked… I swear it grew a foot overnight!

  7. Thank you thank you! I’m a first time gardener and your website was extremely helpful. I loved the pictures. I didn’t realize the zucchini would take over so much. They swallowed my green peppers. I’m thinking about digging them(the peppers) and replanting, but will it disrupt the plant since I have blossoms? Thanks again I can’t wait to grill my zucchini. Found my first one yesterday.

  8. Thank you for this quick “how to”! I was a bit leery of hurting my plant trying to get this monster off, but after reading this article, it was a breeze.

    We’ve been posting updates about our own garden on our blog

  9. What I wanted to know when I clicked on the site, was should I pick the zucchini in the morning, afternoon, or evening. Will it affect the plant or the amount of bitterness in the fruit?

    • Hi Debra – First, thank you for visiting! I have never experienced any difference in taste depending on when I have picked zucchini, or any other vegetable so I don’t think it really matters. However, it is a good idea to pick vegetables during the cooler hours of morning and evening. Harvesting heavily can stress a plant (not to mention the harvester) when done in the heat of the day.

      Thanks for your question and have a great day. :)

  10. Are the huge zucchinis you talk about still good to eat if it’s firm? We were on vacation and came home to a couple huge ones!

    • Hi Nichole – It depends on how big the zucchini gets. If it look like something that resembles a caveman club then it will probably be not that tasty. The seeds will be very big and the fruit will have a mealy, woody kind of taste.

      • I like to let a few get huge then shred them and freeze them so that we can have yummy zucchini bread in the winter. I cant much tell the difference between big and small zucchini when it is in the bread.

        • large Zucc – a friend this past w/end prepared one that everyone loved. She cut lengthwise, scooped out the seeds and prepared a meat and sausage filling baked with a marina sauce. It was excellent. Google for a recipe – it should be easy to find something similar.

  11. jon johnson says:

    i have pick a couple of huge zucchini that look like caveman clubs and had no problem with the taste of the zucchini, i am still waiting on my tomatoes to ripen have 8 plants ou tof the eight plants five of them are heirlooms cant wait ffor them to ripen

  12. It is so funny that your website was the first I chose while searching for info on picking my zucchini because yesterday I was getting frustrated that none of them looked ready to pick and I lifted a big leaf and there was a monster zucchini under it! I’m so excited! This is my first year having a successful garden and I’m TOTALLY hooked. Now if I can just get rid of the worms on my tomato plants. It seems like I could spend all day picking them off!

    • A little bit of cigarette tobacco (maybe the amount used to roll a cigarette) mixed in about a gallon of water over night. In the morning strain it out through a coffee filter or panty hose. put it in a spray bottle and mist plants. A friend told me about it and it actually seemed to keep the worms at bay. also save your egg shells crush them and put around the the plants. this works also with a bonus of having the nutrients from the shells leach into the soil.

  13. JEANNINE says:

    TEE, I AM THRILLED TO HAVE FOUND YOUR WEB SITE! FINALLY I CAN SHARE MY PASSION WITH FELLOW VEGIE GARDENERS. THANKYOU! SINCERELY, OCALA

  14. Elizabeth says:

    I really appreciate your advice about growing and picking zucchini! I went out yesterday and picked our very first harvest!! It was so exciting. I have a question that I hope you can answer. Before I knew the leaves were going to grow sooo big, I planted some younger yellow summer squash in a row beside the zucchini. Well they havent reached full height yet and the zucchini leaves are kinda covering them and not letting them get much exposure to the sun. They seem to be growing fine but I was wondering if I could trim off some of the stalks and leaves from the zucchini to allow the yellow squash more sunlight? or should I just leave them be?

  15. My zucchini are only about 4 inches, but after that they turn yellow and rot. Do I just have small zucchini or is there a problem? Thanks for the great tips!

  16. I planted yellow squash in my garden. One of the plants produced an odd looking “squash.” After some online research I discovered that this was a Limelight Hybrid Zucchini. I suppose a seed was inadvertently mixed in with the packet I sowed. It is producing beautiful zucchini unlike any I have seen before. Does anyone have recipies for this beauty?

  17. Carrie

    Sounds to me like you have a soil issue. Too much or too little of the wrong fertilizer? Also, consider how you are watering.

  18. I live in sunny southern California, and I planted about six zuchinni plants in my garden in early April, and once they started producing there has been no stopping them. You’re right about how fast they grow. I am providing fresh zuchinnis to all of my friends and neighbors. I use my leatherman to cut the zuchinni off the stems, leaving about a half inch of stem attached, and I find this to work well. On another note I’ve found that my arms and legs seem to be sensitive to the prickly underside of the leaves. So now when harvesting I am sure to where my jeans and a long sleeve shirt. I guess that’s just the plants natural defense mechanism. Happy Gardening!

  19. Great website Tee, I started growing all my “Vine” plants melons, cucs, Zucs etc on my hills instead of in my garden and they seem to be growing much bigger and better.

  20. Michelle says:

    Thank you for your advise! This is the 1st year i have grown any vegetables an am so excited to see them sprout! Cant wait to eat them!

  21. I started planting zucchini this year and have a few getting big. One looked like it was growing good and the flower wilted offf, but now it’s started to turn yellow. Is that bad?

  22. Instead of twisting it off, can I snip it off with a pair of scissors?

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