Milano Black Zucchini for Small Space and Container Gardens
Milano Black Zucchini is a dwarf variety well suited for small gardens and containers.
Zucchini is one of the most common foods grown in home vegetable gardens, and for good reason. Growing zucchini is easy and they are prolific producers. Standard varieties are fine for large gardens, but small spaces require smaller plants. Milano Black Zucchini, often called Black Beauty, is a dwarf variety that is happy to share space in a smaller area and is well suited for container gardening.
Each plant grows male and female flowers. The male flowers grow directly from the stem of the plant. The female flowers are on the end of each emergent zucchini. Black Milano is a vigorous producer, and will continue to produce late in the season. It is important to keep an eye on the fruit as it grows and harvest regularly. Continuous harvesting will encourage more fruit production, although fruit growth can be slowed by harvesting the female flowers. Zucchini blossoms are considered a delicacy by many, and not often available in supermarkets.
The fruit is best harvested when it is six to eight inches long. It is favored by cooks for the dark green, almost black skin, which adds color to zucchini breads, pound cakes and other recipes. They are delicious raw, baked, steamed, stuffed or fried. Although zucchini is best eaten or cooked fresh, this variety will freeze well.
Milano Black Zucchini will grow in USDA Zones 3 through 12. It is not frost tolerant. The plant grows to a mature height of 18 to 24 inches. Plants should be spaced 18 to 24 inches apart in rows 3 feet apart in the garden. Some plant suppliers, such as Garden Harvest Supply, suggest spacing of only 12 to 15 inches. Select containers at least 15 inches deep and wide enough to allow the roots to spread.
Seeds can be direct sown in the garden when the soil temperature has reached a reliable 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The seeds will not germinate in soil temperatures above 77 degrees. The seeds can also be started in individual peat pots and set out into the garden when they are four inches tall and after all danger of frost has passed. Germination should occur within 8 days. The fruit will be ready for harvest within 110 to 115 days.
The plants do best in soil with a pH range of 5.6 to 7.5. All zucchini requires full sun, moderate watering and light fertilization. Too much nitrogen fertilizer will result in lush, bushy plants and very little fruit.
Black Milano is an open-pollinated, heirloom seed. Cross pollination is possible with other types of zucchini squash in the garden. If you are planning on saving seeds, plant only one type of zucchini in the garden to ensure the seeds will produce plants true to their variety.
Julie McMurchie is an avid gardener. Follow her gardens at The Wood Streets Gardens.