What I learned about growing zucchini

Jerry Apps
Zucchini growing in our garden in Waushara County, Wisconsin, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022,.

I don’t remember that my folks ever grew zucchini squash in their garden. They grew lots of other squash—winter squash such as Hubbard and Acorn, but no summer squash, I’m sure the idea of summer squash made little sense to them. They had lots of fresh summer vegetables from our big garden—lettuce, carrots, peas, green beans, and sweet corn.

When I first began gardening at Roshara in 1967, I decided to plant some Zucchini. Several of my friends said I should, that zucchini was the new popular vegetable to grow. I planted a long row of zucchini, alongside a row of butternut winter squash. The first important thing I learned about growing zucchini—plant only two or three hills, not a long row.

The second thing I learned, pick the zucchini before it is four feet long, which is the length it grew in my Roshara garden. Needless to say, with the long row, and the huge zucchinis crowding out the butternut squash, I had enough zucchini to feed the neighborhood.

The third thing I learned—check with your spouse about what to do with zucchini before you plant the seeds. I didn’t and when Ruth asked what she should do with our bountiful harvest, I suggested removing the seeds and baking it. That’s what we did with our winter squash. That is not what you do with summer squash. You don’t prepare zucchini that way.

The fourth thing I learned; it is easy to grow zucchini. A gardening friend said, “If you can’t grow zucchini, you’d best turn your efforts to doing something other than vegetable gardening.”

We continue to grow zucchini. Ruth has a zucchini bread recipe that is just the best—the grandkids will eat it before they eat cookies. We have three hills of zucchini in our garden—no more long rows.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Plant some zucchini.  You’ll be surprised at what happens.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to or contact him at