The first problem I've had is in successful germination. I've had SO MUCH trouble getting the seeds to sprout in potting soil in my sunroom, so I have resorted to a different technique.....
Sometime, around early-April, I dampen some papertowels, place the seeds on one side, and fold the paper towel in half to trap the seeds between the damp layers.
Then I stick the paper towels in labeled, unsealed ziplock bags and place them somewhere in the house where it's warm.
These cucumbers kind of look like dancing bugs! I was sort of creeped out.
Then, I gently place pick them off the paper towels and plant them in pots filled with loose potting soil, cover them with more soil, and water them. If the roots are embedded in the paper towel I just pull the paper towel layers apart to free them, or cut around the roots with a scissors and plant them... paper towel and all!
Once they are planted in soil I place them in the sunroom with all of the other seedlings and wait for them to emerge from the surface of the soil. It doesn't take long.....much quicker than seeds planted directly into the soil!
Sometime around late-April I carefully transplant the seedlings outdoors into tubs under the eaves of my roof to protect them from the rain a bit....
......cover them with the poor man's green house...
.....and cover the entire row with row cover weighted down with herring web.When the plants fill the milk jug I remove the jugs. And when the plants start to bloom I remove the row cover.
And now......Here's Annie to show you all how to harvest zucchini properly!
HOW TO PICK ZUCCHINI
1. Look through all the plants first to find the largest zucchinis. Zucchini are $2.00 each regardless of size, so be sure you select ones that are big enough to suit you.
2. Grab the zucchini with one hand and gently twist it until it snaps off the plant where it wants to. If the plant moves too much like it wants to break off rather than give up the zucchini, you may have to support the plant with your free hand to keep it from moving.
And here some things about zucchini blossoms that you may not know....
Very few zucchini varieties are self-pollinating. Most varieties produce both male and female flowers that need insects to bring about successful pollination. It's easy to tell the male flowers from the female flowers....
This is a female flower....it is seen on the end of a baby zucchini.
This is a male flower...it is on a skinny stem that has no baby zucchini on it.
An insect has to crawl around inside the male flower and then inside the female flower to pollinate the female flower. If pollination is not successful the baby zucchini will die. Sadly, each flower is only open for 1-2 days.
And then it droops, closes, and dies.
Zucchini blossoms are not only edible, they are delicious! I like to stuff mine with shredded mozzarella cheese, dredge them in flour, and fry them in butter...........Yummy! I sell blossoms for 50 cents a piece here at the u-pick garden, but I am VERY fussy about which ones you pick. They have to be "spent" flowers.
A spent flower is one that was open and is now shut...thus completing it's roll in life.
This male flower hasn't opened yet. If you picked it now, it would never have the chance to help pollinate female flowers.
This female flower was open earlier and is now "spent" too. It is okay to pick this flower, but you have to pick it off with your fingers very carefully.
If you pry it gently sideways, and it snaps off easily and cleanly it's ready to pick. If it doesn't want to come off easily and the zucchini is starting to bend like it's going to break, it's not ready to pick. If a bit of the end of the zucchini snaps off with the blossom the zucchini it leaves an open "wound" and the zucchini will likely rot and die.
Each plant produces quite a few blossoms, so if you've never tried them before you should come on out to the garden and pick a few!