Courgettes are a prolific vegetable that has created many a glut in many vegetable gardens over the summer months. Fortunately, these vegetables can be used in the kitchen in many different recipes, meaning you just have to be inventive when it comes to finding ways to use these unassuming vegetables.

Growing courgettes:

Courgettes are relatively easy to grow. As long as they are given a sunny and sheltered location, in soil that is rich in nutrients, moisture-retentive yet free draining, then can be very productive all summer long, with one plant capable of providing up to thirty smaller courgettes or fewer larger marrows.

When you know you will be growing courgettes, you should prepare the soil ahead of time by creating planting pits filled with some household compost or well-rotted manure. Courgettes are hungry plants and will benefit from this bounty of nutrition.

It is generally easier to start seedlings off indoors, as germination requires a fairly high temperature and slugs and other pests can be a big problem for delicate young seedlings. Seedlings grow very quickly and seedlings should appear above the soil as little as one week after planting. Seeds should be sown around one month before the expected last frost date, hardened off and then planted out after all risk of frost has passed. If you are planning on placing courgettes in a greenhouse or polytunnel then you may plant them out slightly earlier than you would do if planting outside, though not too early as lack of pollinators will often cause problems very early in the year.

Cloches placed over tender young courgette plants could help outside plants early in the year and can help protect them if cold weather suddenly threatens. You should be careful to water all seedlings well and prevent them from drying out. Try to avoid watering the plant stem and leaves and aim instead for the soil at the base of the plants.

Courgette plants have male and female flowers. Male flowers will tend to come out first, before they come out at the same time later in the season. If you feel that there are not enough pollinating insects then you can give nature a helping hand by gently transferring pollen from the male flower to the females. Female flowers have a more complex looking centre while the males have a cotton-bud like protuberance at their centre. Female flowers are also recognisable as they have the swellings behind the flowers that will turn into the courgettes.

It is really important to keep courgette plants well watered and well fed, especially when they are in flower and when the fruits begin to form. Apply a mulch in hot weather though you should be sure not to let grass clippings or similar mulches touch the stems as this can harm the plants.

Harvest the small courgettes as soon as they are around 10cm in length to taste them at their best and to keep the plants producing.

Why grow courgettes in the garden?

Courgettes are a versatile addition to any kitchen garden. As well as the fruits, additional and unneeded male flowers may also be stuffed and eaten.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Cucurbita pepo