Can you prune zucchini?

3 Jan

Zucchini taking over Bed A

Apparently you can.

I have been overwhelmed by the things. I planted a few, but only the one in full sun has thrived. That doesn’t matter, because I don’t think any family needs more than one.

I grew zucchinis last year and many times as a kid – I thought I knew all about them.

But it’s so easy to forget when you plant out this tiny little seedling just how big the monster is going to become. I’ve made zucchini slice, I’ve made zucchini pickles, I’ve made pie, and quiche, I’ve given them away.

They keep coming!

And this plant is having a few undesirable effects. Firstly – I planted it between edamame and the cucumber trellices, and they’re both being covered now. Secondly, I planted it under the establishing grapevine – that was my really big mistake. The spiky leaves are physically damaging the vine and leaves – scratching them to pieces and killing the leaves off. Secondly, both zucchinis and grapes are prone to powdery mildew, which was inviting trouble.

New third branch - coming towards the camera.

So I considered pulling the zucchini out, but I thought I’d answer a question I had been pondering – can you prune a zucchini plant?

My zucchini had taken off in two directions from the initial planting location. It had reached about 2 metres in length, maybe a bit more. More recently though it had branched out in a third direction, which presented an opportunity. I set out to completely cut off the two main branches, leaving only the centre of the bush and the new branch.

It’s not enjoyable work, I assure you. My arms were scratched to pieces, and I managed to kneel in a rotting zucchini, hiding undetected under the monstrosity. Zucchini sap smells like puke at the best of times, so rotting zucchini really wasn’t on my list of desirable things to coat myself in.

But at the end I had myself a much smaller zucchini plant, several handfuls of sensible-sized zucchini, and a good portion of my front garden bed back.

After a few days now I’m happy to report that the remaining bush seems fine. Growing nicely along the new fork, producing new fruit.

At least I think I’m happy.

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14 Responses to “Can you prune zucchini?”

  1. Barbara Good January 3, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

    They certainly do take off don’t they. I’m having a few issues with mine too, though they haven’t gotten to the size of yours. Oh and my arms are also scratched to pieces because of the zukes – had to do some quite extensive pruning of leaves after our disastrous hail storm.

    • L from 500m2 in Sydney January 3, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

      My heart broke for you guys when I heard about the hail. You invest so much love in the garden, and it can all be taken away so quickly!

  2. Sarah January 3, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

    I’ve been pruning ours too – it has been covering up everything else. That monster zucchini has weighed in 1.88kg! Not sure what to do with it, I think I’ll stuff it but we’ll need some help eating it ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Asydfoodie January 3, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

    Eat the flowers to shrink the crop of fruit. That should help a bit. Or you’ll be making a LOT of chutneys and relishes.

    • L from 500m2 in Sydney January 3, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

      Can you do zucchini flowers without deep frying them? I have absolute bucketloads when combined with the squash and the golden nugget pumpkins, but P’s diet started today ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Sarah January 3, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

        You can shallow fry them, and I’ve seen a recipe for a zucchini flower fritter somewhere too.

        http://www.publicradio.org/columns/splendid-table/recipes/vegetable_flowers.html

      • Asydfoodie January 4, 2012 at 11:27 am #

        I generally stuff them with leftovers. Depending on P’s diet, you could do leftover risotto, rice or pearl barley mixed in with onion, mushroom, diced carrots, nuts. A really lucious filling is with chรจvre instead of the starch. Then dip the tops in egg white and a little breadcrumb to seal and panfry.

  4. Liz January 3, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    Once again I am reminded why I shouldn’t grow zucchini. Every now and then I am tempted but then I realise I only actually use about 2 zucchinis a year and need my space for other things. Although having lots of something is kind of fun….. I prune my pumpkins and they seem to tolerate it fine so I see no reason a zucchini wont – they do often send out more side shoots though – so I would keep an eye on your monster. Incidently my Italian neighbour stuffs the flowers with a breadcrumb, pine nut & herb mixture and bakes the flowers in a tomato sauce.

    • L from 500m2 in Sydney January 3, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

      Now that’s what I’m taking about! Baked in a tomato sauce – perfect for both P’s diet, and our lousy Sydney weather ๐Ÿ™‚

      Actually I shouldn’t complain, we’ve had some lovely sunshine over the last two days. Back to cloudy and showers tomorrow though.

      I think I’ve realised the same thing this year – P detests zucchini, and I don’t love it so much that I want to devote that much space to it. Next year I’ll give it a miss.

  5. Maggie Walters January 3, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    i love zuchinni …. i am impressed with your ability to prune them back! i never would’ve thot of that! i’ll have to try that with them, my pumpkin and my watermelon! assuming the water dragons don’t get them first! blessings to you!

    • L from 500m2 in Sydney January 3, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

      Water dragons – yikes! Just when I’m getting depressed about my slugs, fruit fly and cabbage moth you remind me that there is always another predator that I’m thankful I’m not dealing with.

      Blessings to you too Maggie ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Robyn January 4, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    Well, here’s hoping my 6 month old likes zucchini mush… I definitely won’t be planing one in my tiny garden!

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