Zucchini is a comparatively easy veggie to grow in a garden. Here is the rub though: the plants are not natural vertical climbers because of the absence of tendrils like found in vegetables like cucumbers. In the process outlined below, we’ll show you how to grow zucchini vertically despite this. Growing them the regular way can take up a lot of precious garden space especially if the plan is to maximize the garden’s output per square foot. With the vertical growth strategy, you can grow as much zucchini as you’d want in even less than 1 square foot of space. The right plan incorporates the right trellises, good soil, and proper maintenance.
How to Grow Zucchini Vertically
The success of any garden project depends partly on having all the materials ready before execution. If you grow crops in a garden, chances are, you’ve got most of what is needed already. This is another way of saying as long as you have the space for gardening and the time to put in a shift, you are on your way to harvesting vertically-grown zucchini fruits real soon.
So let’s get to it.
Step 1: Choose a location.
You want to choose a part of your garden that is not shady. The location should get at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. So if you have a backyard that is always shady, your attempt at growing Zucchini is bound to end up in disappointment.
And if you have other plants in the garden, pick a place where the shadow cast by the Zucchini trellis won’t affect the growth of those plants.
Step 2. Choose your preferred support or trellis to grow zucchini vertically
Your options, when it comes to potential support systems or trellises are varied. Strong stakes, T-posts, rigid fence, tomato cage, A-frame trellis, and more are all great zucchini trellises you could use. Do keep in mind that if you are using stakes as support, they must be driven deep into the soil to avoid the heavy zucchini toppling them.
Zucchini can also be propped up against a wall to support the vertical growth of the plant. This is the best option for urban dwellers whose only outdoor space is the patio or balcony.
That said, when it comes to the choice of trellis, the best recommendation is the A-frame trellis. Besides providing stable support, you have the choice of growing the zucchini on both sides of the trellis and even planting crops that thrive in shades underneath.
Step 3: Choose your zucchini variety
The compact bush zucchini specie is the best type to grow vertically. But the final choice might come down to the kind you prefer and availability. The varieties that do well vertically include Black Beauty, Sungreen, Gold Rush, Eight Ball, and Bush Baby. Most of these are bush hybrid zucchini plants. If you have to choose the vining variety, Thunderbird and Graybeard zucchini are two types with very desirable qualities.
Step 4: Planting your zucchini seeds
Zucchini grow best in warm weather so the best time to start planting the seed is after the dangers posed by frost are over. Proceed to plants the seeds like you would any plant in your planter or in the soil. It is a smart idea to add some compost and soil nutrients before and after planting your zucchini seeds.
One reason it’s crucial to grow them from the seed is that the plants don’t transplant well due to extremely delicate roots. And because the plants mature quickly, there is no great advantage in trying to speed up the process by planting the seeds indoors ahead of the season before transplanting them outdoors.
Tip: To prevent seed damage, store them in a cold dry location while waiting for the right time to plant. And get the seeds from verified growers only.
If you prefer using a pot planter, pouch (vertical planters), or pallet, you should take note of the following:
- First, Line the bottom of the pot with about 2 inches of pebbles or rocks to aid soil drainage.
- Then add potting soil on top of the rocks. The soil must be a fertile mix made especially for container gardening.
- Limit yourself to just a seed per planter. This helps prevent the issue of inadequate airflow while giving each plant enough space to grow.
Step 5: Deploy trellises and support system
If you are planting directly on the ground, simply deploy your trellis close to the plant. No matter the type of trellis you use, A-frame, or even a tomato cage, you’d have to train the plants to grow up the trellis. If you are using a pot planter, you could design a simple trellis with 3 tall wooden stakes. Simply plant the stakes around the pot planter then tie the top together to form a wooden tepee. A sturdy tomato cage is another great support option for pot planters.
Step 6. Watering your zucchini
Water the growing plants by directing the water stream directly at the roots instead of the leaves.
You want to ensure the soil around the zucchini is consistently moist, but don’t over-water the soil to prevent diseases like powdery mildew. The best watering routine is to do it first thing in the morning. This ensures that the plants have all day to get dry by nightfall.
Step 7: Training zucchini to grow upwards
When the plants begin to grow, train them to do this vertically by tying the stalks to the trellis. Start by lifting the leaves and tying the base of the stalk to the support system or trellis before securing the stalk above. Don’t tie too tightly though.
This is something you have to do every couple of days if you are using a pot planter and a single stake for support.
Step 8: Keep pollination in mind
All types of zucchini plants produce male and female blossoms. The fruits, though, are produced by female flowers only and these require pollination.
The non-fruit-producing male flowers usually appear first. The presence of the blossoming plants without fruits can be a cause for concern among newbies. But there is nothing to worry about actually.
You have to be a bit patient for the female flowers to grow. Expect the fruits soon after pollination. But you can always pollinate the flowers manually if the female flowers don’t produce fruits. There are numerous simple tutorials on how to manually pollinate plants like zucchini you’d find online.
Tip: To prevent pollination issues in the future, consider growing plants like cosmos and bee balm. These pollinator-friendly crops are known to attract natural pollinators to gardens.
Step 8: Harvesting
When it’s time to harvest, cut the fruit from the stem using a sharp knife. It is not advisable to pull the fruits off the stem as this might damage your zucchini plant.
Also, because squash plants like zucchini produce fruits frequently, you’d have to check on the garden daily to see if there are fruits to be harvested
Harvesting frequently encourages the plant to produce more fruits. Conversely, if the fruits are not harvested, the plant might see this as a signal to stop producing fruits
Some Pro Tips and Tricks for Growing Zucchini Vertically
– The ideal zucchini harvest size is about 6-8 inches long when they are still young and tender.
– Use organic mulch around individual plants to help keep the roots cool, prevent the growth of weeds, and conserve soil moisture.
– Ensure the mulch are a few inches from the stem of the plant
– If you are using planters, use a high-quality potting mix that is lightweight. Zucchini cultivated in containers with garden or topsoil would not grow well.
– Powdery mildew can be a recurring problem with zucchini plants. Placing your planters in areas that are breezy and smearing neem oil on the leaves at the fruiting stage are two ways to control powdery mildew.
– Remove any plant that is severely infected with disease or pest issues. This is to prevent the disease from spreading to other plants
– Pruning the leaves below the zucchini allows the plant to use vital resources for promoting the growth of bigger zucchini.
Benefits of Growing Zucchini Vertically
- Saves space – Saving space is one of the best benefits of growing zucchini or other plants vertically. If you have a small garden space, this is the route to take. The size and quality of your harvest would surely impress you. Also, containing the zucchini within their cages or tied to a stalk or any type of trellis prevents them from spreading and covering the whole garden. Walking paths are left free and there is more space to grow other plants
- Air movement – Training zucchinis to grow vertically promotes better air circulation around the plants. The result is dryer plants that are less prone to fungal diseases such as downy mildew.
- keeps fruit away from the ground – With the fruits hanging above the ground, it is considerably less likely for fruit rot caused by excess moisture to occur.
- Easier harvest – One of the problems of growing zucchini on the ground is the probability of missing some fruits during harvest due to foliage blocking your view. As long as the plant is kept upright and leaves pruned, fruit visibility would never be an issue. And one can’t just get over how convenient it is to harvest fruits without bending down. Senior citizens and people with several debilitating body aches and pains would have a lot to say about that.
- More exposure to light – Zucchinis are sun-loving plants. Training them to grow encourages the foliage to spread out and absorb more sunlight which can only be good for plant growth.
- Less hiding places for plant pests and bugs – With the leaves above the ground, there are fewer places for squash bugs, harmful beetles, and other pests to hide on the ground. It becomes easier to find and eliminate all the eggs before hatching.
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