Saturday, June 9, 2012

Zucchini in Containers: Some Thoughts for a Rainy Day

 It’s been a cool, rainy end to the week here, but warm temperatures and a lot of sun are just around the corner! It’s been about a week since the last update, and there is a lot to report from the garden.

View of garden on 6/9/2012

View of garden from other direction
As you can see from the photo taken this morning, the plants are literally taking over the porch! Plants that a couple of weeks ago were small and nicely confined to their pots are now gargantuan jungle plants gobbling up every bit of free space they can find. It’s truly amazing how fast they grow once they get a little bit of sun and some warmth.

Luckily, the potatoes are almost done for the season, as their flowers are just about to pop. I’m hoping that they’ll flower by Monday or Tuesday, and then we’ll be able to harvest them sometime in a week and a half or so. Since we’re not expecting a huge yield from a 7 gallon pot, I’m not worried about leaving them in the dirt to harden up before we harvest. Unless the plants surprise us and produce a huge harvest, the potatoes we get probably won’t last any longer than it takes to clean them up and cook them!

The potatoes are almost ready for harvest!
The same goes for the broccoli, which is starting to form heads deep down in the stalk. In a couple of weeks we will likely be harvesting broccoli, and then it will be mostly done and that will free up some space. To save more space, I moved the nasturtium inside to the back room because the wind on our porch was pretty much shredding it, but if you have a spot where you can hang a nice basket, nasturtiums would make a great hanging plant. Given the almost weekly 30+ MPH winds we get up here, any sort of hanging basket would be a waste on our porch.

Broccoli, Romanesco, Cucumbers, Beets, and Swiss Chard
Now a word or two about zucchini squash. First of all, this plant is amazing! It already has at least 10 baby squash in various stages of development. On the other hand, if you plan on growing this plant expect it to need a LOT of horizontal space! It is HUGE (and the one we have is still small comparatively).  Most plants grow vertically, so it needs a different type of space than peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, etc. Ours is now sitting in the middle of the porch (which I am not fond of but there is nowhere else for it to go!) guarding the tomato plants. In about a week or so, we should have several nicely sized squash.

Zucchini plant

Squash will be ready for harvest soon!
This brings me to my next point about these plants. One container with 2 zucchini is probably plenty. They produce heavily, so unless you eat enormous quantities of squash you’re probably going to be fine with 2 plants. I ended up taking the other 5 gallon pot of squash off the porch, as it was just too small a container to keep the plants from wilting, and we did not have the space for two containers of squash. Even the roughly 6 gallon pot that I have two plants in as about as small as you would want to go, because it needs watering about every other day. This is the pitfall of squeezing things into smaller pots: the plants suck the moisture out of the smaller volume of soil much more quickly, creating the need to water on an almost daily basis. Then again, as long as you keep the plant watered and fertilized it will be okay. Personally, I like a more low maintenance setup, so next season I will plant the squash 2 plants to an 11 gallon tub (the kind the tomatoes are in now).

Speaking of the tomatoes, they are growing very quickly, and almost all of them have numerous flowers now. It looks like 2 plants to an 11.4 gallon tub is the perfect ratio of space saving container usage to healthy plant growth. I did put 4 cherry tomato plants in one 11.4 gallon tub, and those look like one gigantic bush of tomato, but I think in the future I would limit it to 3 cherry or 2 full-size tomato plants per tub. I am also starting to think that we will be doing some canning, because we are going to have an enormous harvest of tomatoes (hopefully!). 

Black Krim

Green Zebra

Yellow Pear and Sungold (more Black Krim to the Right)
Since it has been raining all day here and it is supposed to be pushing 90 in a couple of days, I expect even more of a growth spurt from the plants. This is a great time to fertilize container plants, since they will have nutrients, water, heat, and sunshine in abundance in very short order. Look for a post on that tomorrow!

Until then, happy gardening!


  1. Beautiful and lush! Don't be afraid to harvest the baby zuchinni's and/or the flowers and eat them as well, a great way to cull the crop and enjoy a different flavor profile! :)

  2. the black krim plants are going to get huuuuge! Be warned.

  3. I had read that the Black Krims and Green Zebra plants would get really big! I'm hoping that by then the broccoli, Romanesco, and potatoes will be off of the porch to free up at least a little space. As long as the Krims live up to their reputation for being delicious, they can have all the room they need!

  4. I'm in So. California so i've had a bit of a headstart as far as warmer weather. Planted in late March. I have a black krim in ground thats about 5 and a half ft. tall and over 4ft. in width. I've got a couple of softball size krims just turning yellow now and ripening hopefully in another couple weeks. Your set up looks fun. Looks good so far, every yr. is a learning experience for me!

  5. Thank you for the comments! Same goes for me in terms of a learning experience. I've never grown broccoli, potatoes, eggplant, beets, strawberries, or most of these tomato varieties before. I really look forward to the day when we have a yard to plant a garden, but as long as we're renting in the city it's containers for us! It is a lot of fun though, and it is nice to at least have the option of moving plants around as needed, especially early in the season up here when it gets down to 35 degrees at night after being 80 for a week!

    How late is your growing season in California? We can usually get tomatoes here (Buffalo NY) until about late September/early October, once the second frost does them in. I put mine out in early May, but most people say to wait until Memorial Day (then again, that's the advantage of a container as I just bring mine inside for the night if it might frost).

  6. I am impressed with your balcony garden. Looks like you utilize space very well.

  7. Hello! What a lovely patio garden! Just curious as to what size pot you think is best for zucchini... I'd love to try some on our balcony this spring, but I'm not sure what to plant it in. Thanks! :)

  8. Hello MalayaBee,

    I would go with at least a 6 or 7 gallon container. The bigger the container, the less you need to water and the more dirt the plant has to draw nutrients and moisture. If you're interested, check out my newest post about squash in containers!

  9. Inspiring! I'm trying container gardening in Bali:)