Courgettes are easy vegetables to grow and very productive, although they do require a lot of space. You can grow courgettes either in containers or in the ground.
There are many varieties to chose from which vary in their growing size and fruit that is produced. Compact varieties are ideal for growing in areas with restricted room and include 'Venus' and 'Supremo'. 'El Greco’ is an open habited plant and ‘Tiger Cross’ produces large striped fruits. Popular varieties used for cooking include Striato d’ Napoli, Verde d’ Milano and Trieste White Cousa.
Courgettes like fertile, moist soil in a sunny position. Prepare the ground by digging over the soil several weeks prior to planting out in June, incorporating a well rotted manure or compost into the bed. Similar to their relatives squash and pumpkins, courgettes need a lot of space. Allow each plant 1 m2 growing space for optimum results.
You can give your courgette plants a head start by growing from seed indoors in March and plant out when the weather starts to warm up. Fill 7.5 cm pots with John Innes seed and cutting compost and firm the soil gently. Plant a single seed vertically in each pot and water well. Cover with a transparent plastic cover or piece of glass until germination and place on a sunny windowsill. Harden off any seedlings in May prior to planting outside.
Alternatively you can plant your courgette seeds directly into the soil in late May. Place two seeds side by side and later remove the weakest plant. You may chose to plant your courgettes in a container or grow bag. Place one plant in a pot and a maximum of two in a grow bag.
Courgettes require a lot of water, especially when flowering and the fruits start to swell.
However courgette plants will rot if the collar sits in water so ensure that they are not waterlogged. Mulch around the base of the plants to lock in moisture and feed fortnightly with a high potash liquid fertiliser.
Harvest your courgettes when they are 10 cm long. You will need to harvest your courgettes every few days to ensure a constant production. Expect to harvest 3-4 courgettes a week.
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