Learning how to grow courgettes will keep you fed all summer long, follow this simple guide for success.
Courgettes are notoriously productive. Once you learn how to grow courgettes you will have no shortage of them once they are in season. They are an easy crop to grow, but there are a few pitfalls that are easily avoidable if you know what you’re doing.
A brilliantly versatile crop, courgettes can be used in a wide number of dishes, and they can be dried and stored for use during the summer. One courgette plant can be enough to feed a family of 4 all summer, with spares under the right conditions!
Courgettes also make an attractive addition to the garden. Their giant, tropical-looking leaves and huge yellow flowers make them beautiful and structural plants.
HOW TO GROW COURGETTES
Growing courgettes is excellent fun and it’s easy to learn how to grow courgettes. They’re a great crop to grow with children as they are fast-growing and robust.
There is a lot of variety with courgettes too, you can choose from green, yellow, short, long or even round and all are similar to grow. Yellow courgettes tend to be a little slower growing, making slightly smaller plants, but the fruits are soft and succulent.
For a traditional-looking courgette try a variety called Black Beauty. Or if you want to try something different, try the beautiful, spherical fruits of De Nice A Fruit Ronde.
Courgettes are a tender crop so they need to be grown during the summer months. They will die off towards the end of the season, with the first frost usually killing them off entirely.
HOW TO SOW COURGETTE SEEDS
Courgette seeds are large and flat. It is best to sow courgette seeds on their side. Push the long edge down into a small pot of seed compost. Do not lay the seeds flat. Cover them with half an inch of compost and water well.
Sow courgettes any time from 4 weeks before your last frost date, to early June. The seeds of courgette will not germinate unless they are sufficiently damp. The water is used to break down the seed coat and allow the root and the shoot to escape.
Sometimes the seed shell can get stuck onto the end of the leaves. Allow the plant some time to dispel it itself, but if it is not coming off you can gently remove it. Be careful not to damage the first leaves when doing this.
WHERE TO PLANT COURGETTES
Courgettes prefer to grow directly into the ground, but you can grow them in containers too. They need a sheltered position in full sunshine and plenty of space.
A courgette plant can grow very large, growing well over 1 square meter. Make sure they aren’t crowded so that they can grow large and produce a lot of fruit.
Courgettes need well-drained soil rich in organic matter. They are heavy feeders, and thirsty plants, so if they are in a container, feed and water them regularly.
HOW TO HARVEST COURGETTES
You can harvest courgettes when they are very small, a little larger than your finger. These will be tender and sweet. Or they can be left on the plant until they are quite large, the size of a marrow, or anywhere in between.
If you pick more regularly, they will likely produce more fruits, but of course, the fruits will be smaller.
To harvest courgettes, simply take the fruit and twist it until it comes apart from the plant. This method reduces the chances of damaging the plant. Alternatively, you can use a sharp knife or a pair of secateurs, be careful not to damage the stem of your plant.
PROBLEMS WITH COURGETTES
Throughout the season, it is likely that you will encounter some problems with growing courgettes. Most problems are easy to avoid or deal with if you know how to grow courgettes properly, and what to do when you encounter an issue.
If you find your courgettes are flowering, but then the fruits are withering from the end with the flower, this is due to lack of pollination. The best thing to do is to plant some flowers around your courgette to attract pollinators to the area.
If this fails, you should hand-pollinate courgettes using a soft paintbrush. Courgette plants produce male and female flowers. The female flowers are the ones with fruits developing behind them, and the male flowers grow on long thin stems. Take pollen from a male flower, with your paintbrush and gently dust it over the central part of the female flower.
It is not uncommon to have all male or all-female flowers early in the season. Don’t despair, your plant will catch up and start to produce both soon enough.
Another common problem with courgettes is powdery mildew. Powdery mildew affects a lot of plants, but squash and pumpkins are particularly prone to it. If you have a lot of powdery mildew, you can remove the affected leaves. Do not to remove too many leaves, however, or the plant may be set back.
Try to tolerate powdery mildew if you can, if there is not a lot. It can be a sign that your plant needs more water. Struggling plants will be more likely to get an infection than healthy plants. For this reason, it usually affects plants more at the end of their growing season.
HOW TO GROW COURGETTES: WHAT IS THE BEST WAY?
Courgettes are easy to grow, but the best way to grow them is in a sunny and sheltered spot in the garden. They are large plants and will need a lot of space to grow. Ensure that they are well watered, especially when getting them established.
Do not allow courgette plants to become pot-bound in spring before going into the garden as this will hamper their growth. Plant later in the season if you are finding your courgettes are too large before the last frost date.
HOW DO YOU CARE FOR COURGETTE PLANTS?
Courgette plants are easy to care for. Make sure that you give them as much sun as possible. Remove any weeds that crowd the plants. Also remove old leaves if they have developed a lot of powdery mildew, to increase airflow around the plant. Courgettes are thirsty, so keep them well-watered.
Always protect courgettes from frosts by keeping them inside in early spring.
HOW LONG DO COURGETTES TAKE TO GROW?
Courgettes are fast-growing plants. If you sow them in April, you will likely harvest your first courgettes in June. Courgettes, like other plants, will grow faster if they are indoors. If you want your plant to grow, fast, make sure that it is warm and well-watered.
Courgette growth will stall if the plant is root-bound. If you are trying to learn how to grow courgettes in pots, ensure that the pot is big enough. If growth is slow and your plant isn’t producing fruits, it probably needs a bigger pot.