Courgette & Marrow
A Central American native, the courgette is a summer squash. Along with other squash and pumpkin, it is part of the Cucurbita Pepo species. In the USA, it is more commonly known as the Zucchini. Technically, it is a fruit that is harvested when immature, as it can grow over half a metre in length when fully matured.
An herbaceous annual, it was brought to Europe from the New World by the early European colonists, where it was adopted and cultivated widely by the Italians in 19th century.
How to Plant courgette
Courgettes thrive in a warm, temperate climate with good air circulation and are suited to growing outdoors in more southerly climates. The optimum temperature for growth is 20-28°C.
Sow seeds indoors or in a greenhouse during March. Use pots with a 10cm diameter and place two seeds per planting. In warmer climates, the courgette seeds can be sown directly, placing them in holes that are 5-7cm deep. Make a row of holes, spacing each pair of seeds at least 1m apart and making a similar 1m spacing between each row.
As the shoots begin to grow, thin out the weaker seedlings, leaving only two plants per metre. As the plants develop, thin out the side shoots as well so that all the nutrients are focused.
Before planting courgette, the soil should be prepared to ensure that it is rich in humus, a loose texture and well-drained. Pre-sowing, distribute 30g/m² Multi Bayfolan Gardens and Gardens; follow-up with further dosing of 20g/m², first, at beginning of fruiting and the second, at harvesting. Alternatively, when foliage appears, use 15-20g / m² of Universal Pro Bayfolan, immediate-release fertiliser.
Soil should be kept moist but does not require regular watering.
Courgette plants can grow beyond a metre high, therefore, need to be staked and tied, supporting the plant’s growth and providing good air circulation.
When to harvest courgette
Courgettes plants are slender with a creeping stem. They produce blooms of vibrant yellow flowers which can be a different sex on the same plant. The flowers are also harvested and are a delicacy in cooking.
The size of the courgette is dependent on the time of harvest. If left to mature, they can reach a metre or more, however, they are harvested at 12-15cm to produce the tastiest fruit. Harvest in summer, over a period of 2-3 months when they should reach the desired size.
Courgettes can then be stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks
Did you know?
Courgettes are low-salt with vitamins and enzymes which make it very easy to digest and also refreshing. They are ideal for eating on a weight-loss diet and can be cooked in a variety of ways grilled, fried, baked or stuffed. Courgettes are often used as an ingredient in soups and feature in many Mediterranean dishes.
Diseases and pests affecting courgette growth
Aphids, White fly, Black cutworm terricolous, Click-beetles and mites, Powdery mildew, Downy mildew, Gray mould, Pythium, Bacterial diseases