When To Harvest Zucchini

Pale green summer squash grow on a plant.

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When will your zucchini be ready? Knowing when to harvest will help your garden grow.

One of the most prolific vegetables you can grow is zucchini (and its cousin, summer squash!). Whether you’re growing the traditional dark green zucchini or opting for yellow summer squash or an heirloom summer squash, here’s how and when to harvest.

How long will it take to grow zucchini?

After germination, you can expect to harvest your first squash in about 35 to 55 days. 

Harvested zucchini squash

How many zucchini will I get per plant?

A lot! Once a zucchini plant reaches maturity, you can expect to harvest new zucchini every day or two. We’ve gotten upwards of ten pounds of zucchini fruit from a single plant. If you haven’t planted your vegetable garden yet, we recommend sticking with one or two squash plants for your family, or you’ll be drowning in zucchini!

When are zucchini ready to harvest?

Most zucchini and summer squash varieties can be harvested when the fruit is about six inches long. This is when you’ll get the tender vegetables with the best flavor!

Growfully Protip

The ideal size may vary depending on the varieties you planted. Check your seed packets for the best harvest size.

Harvest zucchini frequently to encourage the plant to put out new fruit. If you do, you can expect new squash every few days.

Striped squash grow on a plant

How do you cut zucchini off the plant?

Using a sharp knife, garden scissors, or pruners, slice through the stem an inch or two away from the zucchini squash. Avoid twisting the squash to remove it, as it can damage both the zucchini and the plant.

Can you pick zucchini too early?

Not really. It will still be safe to eat and taste fine if you pick zucchini smaller than six inches long, but you won’t get as much vegetable as you could!

What happens if you let zucchini get too big?

If left on the vine, summer squash and zucchini will continue to grow to enormous sizes. While that may sound like a good thing (more food!), growing zucchini too big will make the fruit bitter and pithy and generally not good eats. When we miss a fruit that was hiding under the leaves, we tend to feed them to our chickens. They are much less discerning in their tastes!

Close up on the open blossom of a zucchini plant. Zucchinis grow on either side of the blossom.

Why is the squash turning yellow and shriveled before I can pick it?

If baby zucchini fruits are getting dark or yellow sunken spots on their ends and falling off the plant before they reach maturity, you may have a case of blossom end rot on your hands. Blossom end rot shows up when inconsistent watering causes a calcium deficiency. To correct it:

  1. Don’t allow the soil to dry out entirely.
  2. When you water, water deeply and thoroughly.
  3. Consider increasing the calcium deposits in the soil by amending with bone meal or ground eggshells.

The leaves look all white and powdery—is the fruit still safe to eat?

Yep! A white, floury dusting on the tops of the leaves is a sign of powdery mildew. While it doesn’t look great, the zucchini fruits are still safe to eat.

Labels show what a male blossom v. a female blossom looks like on a squash plant

When do I pick zucchini blossoms for cooking?

The best time to harvest zucchini flowers for stuffing and frying is in the morning, right after they open. Harvest mostly male flowers, but leave some of them behind for good pollination. Avoid harvesting many female flowers, as it will slow the plant’s production.

How to store zucchini

Zucchini can be left on the counter at room temperature for two to three days.

If you need a bit more time to get through all your summer squash, you can store it in a paper or plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the fridge—just be sure to leave one end open for air circulation! We also love these damp terrycloth veggie bags for longer storage.

We also like to freeze zucchini and summer squash for winter soups, pasta dishes, and other recipes in freezer bags or containers.

Harvested zucchini and summer squash are lined up on the soil

How to use zucchini

Lots of gardeners end up surprised by how prolific zucchini plants are—and get overwhelmed with their harvest! We definitely recommend freezing some of that squash for later, but we also have a whole collection of zucchini and summer squash recipes to help avoid zucchini boredom.

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Cassie is a Certified Master Gardener and the founder of Growfully. She's been gardening organically for over two decades, and she's so excited to answer all the questions you have about gardening!

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Meet Cassie
Meet Your Guide

Hi! My name is Cassie.

I’m a Certified Master Gardener and founder of Growfully. I’ve been gardening organically for over two decades, and I’m so excited to answer all the questions you have about gardening!

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A wooden hopper is filled with just-harvested vegetables.
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