General Information and Agronomic Aspects
Fruits, leaves and flowers of Zucchini and other Cucurbita species are used as vegetables, and their seeds are consumed roasted as a snack food (CAB 2006). Zucchini has a mild flavour and is very watery. It is often harvested when still very young. At this stage it is also called squash or courgette. Because the fruit has very little flavour of its own it is often used as a base for making savoury dishes.
The seeds can be scooped out of and a replaced with a filling - this can then be baked (Plants for a Future 2003). Ornamental gourds are cultivars of C. pepo with small, bitter and inedible fruits in many shapes, sizes and colours (CAB 2006).
Nutritive Value per 100 g of edible Portion
|Raw or Cooked Zucchini|
Energy (Calories / %Daily Value*)
|Carbohydrates (g / %DV)||Fat (g / %DV)||Protein (g / %DV)||Calcium (g / %DV)||Phosphorus (mg / %DV)||Iron (mg / %DV)||Potassium (mg / %DV)||Vitamin A (I.U)||Vitamin C (I.U)||Vitamin B 6 (I.U)||Vitamin B 12 (I.U)||Thiamine (mg / %DV)||Riboflavin (mg / %DV)||Ash (g / %DV)|
|Zucchini with skin cooked||16.0 / 1%||3.9 / 1%||0.1 / 0%||0.6 / 1%||13.0 / 1%||40.0 / 4%||0.4 / 2%||253 / 7%||1117 IU / 22%||4.6 / 8%||0.1 / 4%||0.0 / 0%||0.0 / 3%||0.0 / 2%||0.6|
|Zucchini with skin raw||16.0 / 1%||3.3 / 1%||0.2 / 0%||1.2 / 2%||15.0 / 1%||38.0 / 4%||0.4 / 2%||262 / 7%||200 IU / 4%||17.0 / 28%||0.2 / 11%||0.0 / 0%||0.0 / 3%||0.1 / 8%||0.6|
*Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower, depending on your calorie needs.
Climatic conditions, soil and water management
Zucchini requires a rich, well-drained soil that is able to retain moisture. It grows best in a sunny and sheltered position. Plants are tolerant to light shade. It prefers a pH of 5.5 to 5.9, but tolerates up to 6.8 (Plants for a Future 2003). It responds very well to fairly heavy applications of good compost or well-decomposed manure in the planting hills or ridges. Drought stress quickly reduces fruit setting, so during dry spells irrigation is a must, preferably watering below the leaves or using drip irrigation.
Propagation and planting
Zucchini and squashes are grown from seed. Seeds may be sown in containers and transplanted to the field when they are 10 cm high or have 2 real leaves. Direct seeding of two to three per hill is also commonly practised. Trailing types are planted at distances of 2 to 3 m either way; the seed requirement is 2 to 3 kg/ha. The bushy types are planted closer, for example, plants spaced 60 to 120 cm in rows 1 to 1.5 m apart. The seed requirement for Zucchini is 7 kg/ha. Plant densities vary from 5,000 plants per ha for the long-running trailing forms to 20,000 plants per ha for the bushy types (CAB 2006).
Varieties grown in Kenya include Ambassador F1, Black beauty, Green Zuchinni Cera F1, Simba F1, Star 8021, Squash Black Beauty and Dark Green Zucchini.
Sole cropping is normally used for commercial production. Zucchini and squashes are also planted in home gardens as fresh vegetables. Cultural practices to improve growth and development include the removal of growing tips to check growth in case of trailing varieties.
Zucchini and other summer squashes, from which the immature fruit is used as a fresh vegetable, develop very rapidly. The first marketable fruits can be harvested 50 to 60 days after planting, or 3 to 6 days after appearance of the female flower. During the harvest season the fruits are harvested two to three times per week. (CAB 2006)
Crop yields for summer squash (immature fruits) are 7 to 12 t/ha. Unless grown for seed, mature fruits are not marketable, so plants are removed when yields become too low. Indicative figures for seed yield of zucchini and other squashes are 400 to 1500 kg/ha. In seed production, isolation between fields of different Cucurbita species is recommended, not only for reason of purity but also for obtaining maximum yields (pollen of other species may cause reduced fruit set).
Summer squash of good quality can be kept for up to 14 days when stored at 7 to 10degC and 85 to 95% RH (CAB 2006).