ZUCCHINI ‘BLACK JACK’ (Cucurbita spp.)

Just for the fun of it, I bought a small punnet of 4 zucchini seedlings about 3 weeks ago to see if they would grow in my hot, west-facing balcony garden.

I’ve never grown zucchini in any of my previous balcony gardens as the plants grow too big for such a small space.

The plant label said “A high yielding variety with dark-green skin and creamy-white flesh.  Plant in settings of two.”

  • POSITION: Full sun
  • PLANT: 75cm apart
  • MATURITY 6-8 weeks

My plastic pots and troughs were way too shallow and nowhere near large enough to plant one, let alone 4,  plant seedlings, but I stuck them in one trough and lo and behold…….they grew.

One did keel over and die on a particularly hot day towards the end of last week, so I just pulled it out and threw it in the bin.

They even had flowers within 10 days and today, when I went out to inspect the soil moisture, I noticed 2 tiny zucchini growing.

The plants did keel over yesterday and for one of the first times ever, I had to give the plants a drink mid-afternoon while the sun was still hot.

I try to never water plants during the day in the warmer months, as it can burn their fragile roots.  I prefer to water my potted plants at dusk in the summer, so the plants can drink up the moisture over the cooler night-time.

If my plastic pots are very small, I sometimes need to water first thing in the morning when I get up, (while the balcony is in full shade), as well as at dusk.  The sun moves over the apartment building and hits my balcony about 2.30pm DST (daylight savings time), so early morning watering on a hot day is not such an issue as it would be in an open sunny field.

I also bought a large pest deterrent cover.

They only had one size on the store shelf, and one packet left (in my nearby plant nursery store last Saturday).  Initially, I had it spread over all the young seedlings and I thought it was working, but my Pak Choy and Mint is STILL getting eaten.

Where in the %$@&! do these little pests come from?  Are they in the new potting soil I bought?  Are they invisible and jump on the plants before I finish potting, ‘watering in’ the newly planted seedlings and put the netting cover over? I took the cover off this morning and decided to just let the seedlings have a little more sun.

Oh well, at least the established herbs seem to be insect-free this summer.

After a lovely cool change about 10 days ago, when I hoped Summer might finally be over, Melbourne is in the middle of another heat wave at the moment – not expected to end until next Tuesday evening.

It’s OFFICIAL – Melbourne (and the rest of Australia) has had the hottest summer on record!.  Today, Friday the first day of Autumn, is hotter than ever.

SUNSET LAST NIGHT ON THE CLIFF TOP OPPOSITE MY APARTMENT BLOCK. YOU’LL NOTICE THE EXCAVATOR SITTING ON THE TOP OF THE HILL. IT’S BEEN RATHER NOISY AGAIN SINCE JUST AFTER CHRISTMAS. THE CONSTRUCTION WORKERS SEEMED TO HAVE HAD 6 MONTHS OFF AS I HADN’T SEEN THEM SINCE 26TH OF JUNE LAST YEAR. BUT THEY’RE BACK ON TRACK THIS YEAR ‘EATING’ AWAY AT THE CLIFF FACE TO READY THE SITE FOR A NEW APARTMENT BLOCK.
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21 thoughts on “ZUCCHINI ‘BLACK JACK’ (Cucurbita spp.)

  1. It’s too bad that this time of year we can’t trade a few degrees of our cold for an equal amount of your heat! This week our nights are at or below zero (F).

    I used to live in a small, country kind of town in Arizona, and there the saying was that you better lock your car if you leave park it in town or someone would fill it with zucchini.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, Terry, I wish we could exchange a few degrees. I haven’t even ventured out via Taxi to the nearest shops – its so darn hot and humid.

      Will be interesting to see if the zucchini grow some more or the heat kills them.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Ribana. I don’t know about a green thumb, but since I moved to this apartment with a west-facing hot balcony, the plant growth has been extraordinary.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Try covering the plants with some kind of mesh or shade cloth, Ribana. It may not look attractive, but if you’re serious about trying to grow some herbs or food, some shade is a must. I remember how hot it was in Singapore back in 1975 on my first visit.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The problem is that my balcony is very small. The sun is only in the morning but I think is still too strong. For now I’ve squeezed only aromatic herbs: rosemary and sage and a few orchids. 😊 I’ve tried with parsley but did not like the hot…I’ve tried with some cherry tomatoes and the plant was huge but only 3 tomatoes ☺️ Next step I’ll try some lettuce but is difficult to find the seeds ☺️

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    3. Keep trying different vegetables and herbs – morning sun is supposed to be the best sun, anyway (so I’ve read).

      I’ve had 3 different balcony gardens with 3 apartments all over Melbourne and it’s only by experimenting that I’ve achieved the right plants for the available light in each location.

      I tend to change and replenish my balcony garden each season as I experiment. I even tried some indoors in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows, but the air-conditioning ‘killed it’.

      It’s too hot at the moment and the sun is really taking a toll on the leafy greens. 4 more really hot days forecast and then…….hopefully…..we might get into some cooler Autumn weather in Melbourne.

      Here’s some incentive for you…..https://vickialfordnatureblog.wordpress.com/2018/10/10/its-time/https://vickialfordnatureblog.wordpress.com/2018/09/23/perfection/https://vickialfordnatureblog.wordpress.com/2018/09/03/caught-you/https://vickialfordnatureblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/30/30th-july/

      As you can see, I’ve done a lot of experimenting 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think your zucchini should thrive. Ours do remarkably well in our hot, humid summers, and it seems the hotter it gets, the more they produce. It’s a shame you have something nibbling, but perhaps they’ll get full, and move on!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. At the rate it’s growing, I’ll have some zucchini in a matter of days, Linda. There are ants on the zucchini leaves but I’ll wait to see if I get any actual bugs on the fruit. So far, I’ve only got one meal off the 4 Pak Choy plants. I expect the 3rd plants to be eaten when I go outdoors to water in about an hour or so. I left the cover off today as my baby spinach and Tuscan Kale is slow to start growing and I wondered if they needed more sun.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the cover worked brilliantly in reducing the heat of day. I noticed at the end of the day (38C degrees/100F) that the soil was still wet and the foliage of the seedlings hadn’t wilted at all.

      Next Spring, when the Plant Nursery sales staff said they stocked their shelves again, I’ll go back and maybe buy another one. Of if possible, some smaller ones.

      If our Summers are going to get hotter, these pest covers seem to be a solution to the wilting and drying out (on this hot afternoon west-facing balcony). As to pest control……I think maybe the Harlequin bugs crawled under a loose corner as I couldn’t find any Cabbage Moth Caterpillars on the Pak Choy and had seen a couple of Harlequin Bugs on the balcony the day before.

      I think the pest covers are meant to go over a garden as the pack also had some sturdy
      black plastic pegs to hold the cover down on the soil and not blow away in the wind.

      Like

  3. Since we’re still working on the house, we haven’t done much trying to grow veggies. We do belong to a CSA (community supported agriculture) where we get a share of the organic produce grown locally. They do a far better job of it than I ever could. The only thing edible I’ve managed to grow is a cherry tomato. I love going out and popping the prolific little tomatoes in my mouth like candy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nothing tastes quite as good as that which we grow ourselves, Gunta. But a CSA or fresh food market is just as good. I can taste those cherry tomatoes in your garden as I type.
      Delicious (i imagine) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. All squash blossoms are so attractive, Vicki. I am glad your seeds germinated.
    It is very concerning to hear about your record-breaking summer. It floors me that we can keep putting off necessary steps to curb additional increases in temperature.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our record-breaking summer concerns me too, Tanja. With all the proof of Gobal Warming, how can anyone stick their head in the sand and say it’s not happening. It’s all very well to say it takes years to put changes to our treatment of the environment into practice. I say if everyone in the western world made changes in recycling and packaging alone, that would make a significant impact.

      The ‘experts’ say Australia’s weather is only going to get hotter, so we’d better get used to it! Phooey! The Experts should be talking to the Government now and start changes in de-forestation to start with. If Bhutan can stop de-forestation and actually increase their forest cover of their country, why can’t we?

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