Plant zucchini from seed anytime after the last frost. Many gardeners plant zucchini twice in the season to allow for a summer and late fall harvest. Plant seeds about 2 or 3 feet apart if planting in rows, or plant 2 or 3 plants to a hill for hill planting. Unlike other members of the squash family, zucchini plants are bushy and grow tall and wide instead of sprawling out across the garden. Put mulch around the plants so the fruit isn’t in direct contact with wet soil.
Like other squashes, zucchini plants produce separate male and female blossoms and generally require some help with pollination, which you can do by brushing a small, clean paintbrush inside the male flowers to collect pollen, and then brush inside the female flowers to distribute it. Only the female flowers produce fruit, and you can recognize the difference between the sexes by the tiny zucchini just behind the base of the female flower.
Once pollinated, zucchini grow rapidly. Harvest the fruit when it is still small (about 6 inches long) and tender for the best flavor. Unlike its cousin winter squash, summer squashes (like zucchini) have a thin rind. It is soft and you can scratch it with your finger. If the zucchini is left on the vine too long, the rind will harden and the zucchini flavor will suffer. Pick early and often. You will want to wear gloves when harvesting zucchini; the plants’ leaves and stems have tiny thorns that can be pretty irritating for bare hands. In addition to the squash itself, you can also eat the zucchini blossoms!