Zucchini Squash Harvesting: When Is Zucchini Ready To Pick
In the summertime, it’s best to wait until after the first frost. That way you get a good crop of zucchinis. However, if you live in a colder climate like me, then there are other times when you might want to pick your zucchinis before they turn yellow or brown.
I’ve been told that some varieties of zucchini are ready to pick as early as May, but others say June is the time to start harvesting them.
So which one is right?
Well, according to what I read on various websites and books, here’s what you need to know…
When Should You Start Harvesting Zucchini Squash?
I’m going to give you three options here:
1) Pick Your Zucchini Early – If you’re in a warmer climate, such as Florida, Texas, or California where the days are longer than they are in New England (and therefore the nights shorter), then picking your zucchini now would be ideal.
You could even go ahead and plant it out for winter storage.
2) Wait Until Mid-September – This is what I do since I live in an area where the days are shorter than in the places listed above.
The problem with this is that your zucchini plant will be putting more of its energy into blossoms than it will the actual zucchini—which means more flowers and less zukes. If you’re dead set on picking your zucchini before the first frost, then this would be my suggestion.
3) Pick It When The Time Is Right – If you’re in a climate where the seasons are less defined, then you can always pick your zucchini when it’s ready.
As I mentioned above, most people say this is around June. I’m just the odd ball that follows the rules of Mother Nature!
A Few More Things…
If you live in an area that has a real winter (i.e. a winter with real frosts), then you’re going to want to make sure you have a pest-proof shelter for your zucchini plants.
The easiest way to do this is with old shower curtains. All you need to do is drill several small holes in the bottom of it, fold it in half, and stake it down over your plant. The only part that will be exposed is the top portion of the plant—and that’s where the zucchini grow. The rest of it will be protected from critters as well as the frost.
Another option is to build a small greenhouse for them. I’m in the process of doing this myself with old window frames. All I have to do now is get the lumber to frame it and I’ll be all set!
If you have your heart set on eating your zucchini before summer’s end, then make sure you harvest it every couple of days in order to keep the plant producing.
If you’re in a real bind and need to keep the plant producing, then you can pick the blossoms and cook them. They are good, just not as good as the zucchini itself!
And there you have it, everything you ever wanted to know about growing zucchini and picking it at the right time. Now go out there and get zucchini-izing!
Sources & references used in this article:
Respiration, hydrogen peroxide levels and antioxidant enzyme activities during cold storage of zucchini squash fruit by S Gualanduzzi, E Baraldi, I Braschi, F Carnevali… – Postharvest Biology and …, 2009 – Elsevier
Growth, yield, fruit quality and nutrient uptake of hydroponically cultivated zucchini squash as affected by irrigation systems and growing seasons by Y Rouphael, G Colla – Scientia Horticulturae, 2005 – Elsevier
Comparison of sprayable and film mulches in delaying the onset of aphid-transmitted virus diseases in zucchini squash. by CG Summers, JJ Stapleton, AS Newton, RA Duncan… – Plant disease, 1995 – cabdirect.org