If you are a fan of zucchini, you are absolutely not alone! Zucchini is extremely versatile and has many uses on the dinner table. In fact, there are dishes out there that contain zucchini that one might not ever realize or suspect. These dishes are just as delicious as ever, only healthier for their zucchini contents, which makes adding it to your veggie garden an easy call to make.
With low calories (17 per 100 grams), no cholesterol, and no saturated fat, zucchini is a friend to most any diet. It is also said that the peel is rich in dietary fiber that enables it to fight constipation. This summer squash contains plenty of potassium, which is good for the heart and blood pressure. There is also enough folate present to fend off neural tube defects in developing fetuses and it is even said that zucchini fights cancer. On top of that, zucchini has vitamin and mineral power, containing iron, manganese, phosphorus, pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamin, and zinc.
When you consider all of the good health benefits plus all the great stuff you can make with it, such as zucchini bread, noodles, brownies, muffins, and more, it becomes clear the many reasons we have to grow zucchini. Luckily, doing so doesn’t require much space; being that it is a bush type plant, very few are necessary to produce an adequate harvest. Growing them also isn’t too hard, although cool, wet summers can make it a little more difficult.
When you start planting any type of summer squash, it is best started directly in the garden after the final frost to avoid transplant shock. Plant seeds in in an area that receives plenty of sunlight but also has good drainage and allows 10 to 15 square feet of space for each plant to grow; this basically translates into planting approximately four feet apart. The soil in which summer squash thrives needs to be rich in organic matter and very fertile with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. All of this is important for disease prevention and due to the formation of the zucchini plant; when you consider that it has thick stems and large leaves plus produces large fruit, it makes good sense that your plants need to be appropriately fed and watered in order to thrive.
As zucchini begins to grow, you will need to get out there and pull any weeds that come up with them. On down the road this will not be an issue because once leaves grow large, they will shade out weeds, but initially you will have some work to do. As plants grow, flowers will begin to appear. Usually the first ones you’ll see are yellow, which are male flowers. After a bit, female flowers will begin to appear, identifiable by the beginnings of the zucchini near to them. Let the zucchini grow until they reach a desirable size but don’t let them get too big as that begins to drain the plant’s energy. Use a knife or shears to cut fruit on a daily basis in order to avoid damaging the plant itself. If you wish to eat the flowers in a salad or some other dish, picking them in the morning is best.
All that is left to do is enjoy that zucchini in your favorite dishes! Since it is so versatile, the sky really is the limit and you can do many delicious things with it. If you need some help stirring up your zucchini imagination, here is a recipe source to get you started. Bon apetit!