If you’re new to vegetable gardening I highly recommend you try growing zucchini. I can’t think of any other single vegetable that’s not only incredibly simple to grow but also gives a terrific bang for your buck. It germinates quickly and easily, and so long as the weather is warm it grows quickly. You should be making your first picking within about 6 – 8 weeks and from then on you’ll be harvesting if not every day then certainly every second day right through till the end of summer. If you’ve never grown them before you won’t believe how quickly they grow.
Two plants will probably be more than enough for the average family unless you simply can’t get enough of them. But if you’ve got a glut they freeze without a problem – just cut them into slices and spread them on a tray covered with a sheet of greaseproof paper. Once frozen bag them up.
The two biggest challenges I face when growing zucchini are cold and slugs. Where I live late spring weather can often be a bit fickle and a sudden drop in temperature can set the plants back. So I overcome that by giving them some temporary shelter when I first plant them out. Nothing fancy – it could be as simple as some horticultural fleece draped over them, or else prop a couple of old panes of glass or clear perspex either side.
Slugs are partial to the young plants so at first I always put some sort of slug repellant down, but by the time they’ve been planted out for a few weeks they’ll be big enough to stand on their own feet and withstand any further predation.
Buckingham is a compact yellow variety that’s ideal if you have limited space –
Buckingham gets about 18 to 24 inches tall with handsome foliage and reaches only about 36 inches in width. The golden yellow flowers and fruit make for a most striking plant.
The dwarf bush will produce an abundance of fruit, which is best harvested at about 7 to 8 inches long while still tender. This is an ideal size for steaming, stuffing or slicing silver dollar size for stir frying.
Many of us have grown squash that seems to travel or spread, taking up more than its allotted space in the garden. This is not the case with Buckingham, and no support or staking is required.
I don’t think I have ever seen a more prolific squash producer in a container. But know that it works equally well in the small raised garden bed. In either place, you will need plenty of sun. Plant seeds in fertile well-drained soil after temperatures have warmed.
In a small raised bed, try planting in hills or short rows. Plant your seeds 1 inch deep. You will want to space plants about 2 feet apart. This is one squash variety that will give you enough fresh vegetables to eat and yet allow for freezing or canning even when grown in small spaces. You should find it maturing in 40-45 days.
I first started growing zucchini years ago and have grown it every year since. It’s one of those solid, reliable plants that won’t let you down and rewards your efforts with an abundance of delicious fresh food.