Pruning zucchini in your garden
Pruning zucchini isn’t one of those topics I’ve seen discussed often. Neglect to prune your zucchini and they can become overgrown. This makes it difficult to see or harvest those squash and apply your weekly feed.
A zucchini that becomes overgrown has leaves that touch the ground. This makes a great hiding and breeding ground for insects. Leaves that touch the ground also make the plant more prone to getting powdery mildew. A good pruning allows proper airflow and makes it easier for the gardener to quickly identify and correct deficiencies and insect problems,
What to prune
Start with the leaves that touch the soil. Those leaves make the plant easily accessible to insects while providing them safety. As previously mentioned leaves that are in constant contact with the soil hold moisture on the leaf and encourages powder mildew.
Old leaves that are damaged are also a good candidate for removal. Removing these leaves that are generally located closest to the ground open up the plant and allow light and airflow to reach the plant. Remember the 6 laws of plant growth?
When to prune
To reduce the stress on the plant it is best to prune while its cool. During the spring or fall I prune in the morning or in the evening. During our brutal hot summers I try and prune in the evenings.
How much do I prune
When I’ve neglected to prune as I should I try to remove less that 50 percent of the total leaves. It is NOT ideal as this causes more stress to the plant. Ideally I want to remove no more than a quarter of the leaves at any one time.
The pruning will stimulate the plant to grow and replace the leaves you just removed. Keep it fed and watered in conjunction with routine pruning and you will have lots of zucchini.
What tool do I need for pruning?
For this particular job a good pair of ordinary kitchen scissors will work quite well. But for pruning a Mittleider garden in general I love my Fiskars Softouch Micro-Tip Pruning Snips. If you don’t have a pair watch for them on clearance at Walmart this fall.