Z is for Zucchini

Shaped like a cucumber, with the outer skin either dark green or yellow, zucchini has many health benefits. It is a nutrient dense vegetable with high water content and contains both soluble and insoluble fibres for a healthy digestive system. Though not used much in traditional Indian dishes, zucchinis are an integral part of many foreign cuisines —  Italian, French, British, Spanish, Mexican and American. The best thing about zucchini is that it can be cooked as well as consumed raw.

Zucchini Fact File

  1. Sowing Season

From mid- October to end – January

2. Pots for growing

15- 16 “pots. It is best not to grow in small pots.

3. Soil

Sow zucchini seeds in containers which have drainage holes. Containers should be filled with any  one of the following mixes:

2-part garden soil and 1 part any organic manure.

1 part garden soil, 1 part coco peat and 1 part vermicompost.

50% gobar khad and 50% well drained soil or coco peat.

4. Sowing

Zucchini can be grown both by transplanting or growing directly in containers, raised beds or open ground.

Push the seeds into the growing medium lightly (twice the seed length) and cover with a light sprinkling of soil.

5. Light

Zucchini requires full sunlight to grow, so place your growing containers or raised beds in an area with full sunlight.

6. Watering

When seeds are first sown, water well using a watering can and not a hose pipe so that seeds do not get displaced. After this first watering, do not water till the seeds germinate. Subsequently, water daily.

7. Time till germination

The zucchini seeds will germinate within the first 6 – 8 days after sowing.

8. Time till Harvest

Zucchini plants will flower at 25 to 30 days from sowing and the vegetable will be ready for harvesting 55-60 days from sowing.

Caring for Zucchini plants

    • After the second week from the time of sowing, keep only a single seedling at one spot and cut off the weak, small and lagging seedlings with a pair of scissors.
    • Water the zucchini plant every day.
    • Once the plant is established, feed every 7 to 10 days with a good liquid fertiliser such as Jeevamrutha.
    • Keep a watch for early signs of any insect/fungal or any other infections. In case of any fungal infection or powdery mildew problem, treat with an organic pesticide such as a garlic spray.

Benefits of Zucchini

Zucchini is rich in antioxidants and promotes overall health. It is an excellent source of Vitamins A, C, B6 and K, and also Folate, Manganese and Potassium.  In fact, it contains more Potassium than a banana. The Potassium and carotenoids in the zucchini help reduce blood sugar levels and the Vitamin C and beta-carotene are good for eye health.

Zucchini is an extremely healthy alternative to traditional pasta due to its low calorie and carbohydrate quality. One cup of cooked zucchini has only 17 calories, making it an ideal vegetable to consume if you are trying to lose weight.