Every gardener knows that some vegetables are easier to grow than others. Pickier plants need a lot of care and coaxing in order to grow and mature properly. Other plants simply need to be planted in the ground, watered when needed, and then, the next thing you know, you have ripe vegetables ready to harvest and eat.
But what’s the easiest vegetable to grow? There must be one that tops the list; one that produces a ton of vegetables without taking up a lot of your time. It’s easy to name the top five of these, but harder to come up with just one plant. Out of all of the vegetables that grow in the United States, zucchini should be at the top of the list.
Unlike some vegetables, for example beans and tomatoes, that need to shored up to stakes, poles or cages for support, zucchini is quite happy to stay on the ground. It’s a very low-maintenance vegetable. Here are some other characteristics that put zucchini at the top of the list:
– Location: Zucchini likes full sun, but will also grow well in partial shade. This gives you more options when planting this vegetable, as it isn’t overly picky. This vegetable also prefers alkaline soil that falls between 6 and 7 on the pH scale, and likes soil that drains fairly well. With that said, it will grow well in many different conditions, even those that don’t quite fit the profile.
– Watering: This vegetable prefers a lot of water, so make sure that the soil around it is kept moist. This is really the only thing that zucchini plants are really picky about. If they don’t receive any water, they won’t grow properly. The leaves and buds can also begin to wilt. If this happens, it’s just a sign that your plants need more water.
– Preventing harmful conditions: Zucchini is prone to wilt and mildew, but that doesn’t make it any harder to grow – it just means that when you water your plants, make sure that the water goes directly into the soil underneath the plant. Any droplets that remain on the leaves and stem of your zucchini will only welcome mold and mildew. You don’t want this, so be careful about where the water ends up.
– Fertilizer: If you plan on using chemical fertilizers, keep in mind that your zucchini plants only need one dose. Plant your seedlings (or seeds, depending on how you plan your garden and what climate you’re in) and then fertilize them. Water your plants soon after, and then sit back and watch your zucchini grow.
– Harvesting: As soon as your zucchini are around 4 inches long, they need to be harvested. The downside to this (if you’re worried about zucchini overload) is that as soon as this happens, the plants will seemingly explode and you’ll end up with a ton of zucchini. However, if you love this vegetable and plan on using every single one that you grow, then this is a good thing.
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Pic by WallyHartshorn