Zucchini is a versatile vegetable great for grilling, roasting, or baking into bread for a delicious addition to summer recipes. It is easy to grow and matures relatively quickly.
Here’s a basic guide on how to harvest zucchini from your garden.
You've probably seen gorgeous yellow blossoms by now, making the bees crazy with excitement. The flowers are pollinated by these busy helpers, and then the fruit forms on the plants (yes, zucchini is technically a "fruit").
When the plants are fairly large (leaves really get huuuuge!) and it's been about 7 weeks since planting, start scouting for production. Move the leaves out of the way to look toward the base of the plant. Consider wearing gloves here -- the stems grows small hairlike spines that are a little uncomfortable (can be mildly irritating) to touch.
Both the zucchini flower + fruit are edible parts of this plant. You might find zucchini for sale at farmer's markets with the flowers still attached--a true sign of how fresh they actually are. Because the flowers are so fragile, they do not stay fresh for more than a day. Zucchini and other summer squash flowers are delicious in many different ways, most commonly stuffed with cheese and fried.
Ready-to-harvest zucchini will be, on average, about 6 to 12 inches long. They can grow larger than 12" (most times by accident!) by leaving them on the plant, but the flavor and nutrient levels will decrease. If using zucchini for grilling or sautéing, the larger size can be preferable for greater surface area.
With healthy soil, the more zucchini you harvest, the more your plants will be able to keep producing...so keep picking!
To harvest, grab a knife and reach down to the base of the zucchini where the fruit is attached to the plant. Cut the fibrous stem just above where the zucchini connects to it. Zucchini can be stored in the fridge or will also be fine for a few days on your kitchen counter at room temperature.
Remember to consistently check your plants for more fruit every couple of days because once they start coming, they'll roll in faster than the blink of an eye.