How to grow courgettes
Growing your own crew of courgettes at home is very straightforward. With these fast-growing super squashes, you’ll feel like a seasoned veg farmer in no time.
Courgettes are really easy to grow, even for inexperienced gardeners. In ideal conditions, you might even be able to pick three or four ripe courgettes each week during the harvesting season. Here's a quick courgette checklist:
- Sow indoors or outdoors from April to June.
- Give each courgette plant plenty of space.
- Grow them in a sheltered spot with plenty of sun.
- Keep their soil damp, but not drenched.
- Bulk them up with tomato fertiliser every fortnight.
- Harvest from June to October.
When to plant courgettes
You can sow courgette seeds indoors or outdoors. Always pop the seeds in using their edges, otherwise water can collect on the face of the seed and lead to rot.
Indoor seeds need to be started in April and kept safe in a three inch pot until they’re big enough to go outside. Sow any outdoor seeds during May or June in pots and grow bags. Cover them with a clear plastic pot until they sprout.
You could also pick up some plug-and-play courgette plants. Courgettes are annual crops, which means that once they've exhausted their fruits at the end of the season, they'll need replacing.
How to plant courgettes
Once your baby courgette crops have had a growth spurt towards the end of May, it's time to plant them. Choose the strongest-looking seedling and snip off the others to help the plant thrive.
Place any indoor seedlings outside during the day, but not at nighttime, for about a week. They’ll then be ready to stay outside for the rest of the season.
For pre-bought plants, give them a good foundation of nutritious compost in a large pot, raised bed, or grow bag.
When to repot courgettes
Courgettes are pretty fast-growing vegetables, so they need a lot of space. Seedlings that have been started indoors will need a bigger pot after about three weeks.
Move them up to a five inch pot and let them grow a little more before planting them in their final container outside. Plant just one courgette per pot to give them enough room to stretch themselves out.
How to look after your courgette plant
Courgettes may be hardy little squashes, but they still need good growing conditions to produce a bumper bounty. Let them sunbathe for most of the day, but keep in a sheltered spot away from the wind.
Courgette plants are also extremely thirsty and need watering regularly to keep them thriving. Keep the soil of your courgette plants moist, but not drenched, otherwise they may start to rot. Avoid getting water on the leaves.
Like any teenager going through a growth spurt, courgettes need food. Lots and lots of food. Feed them a healthy dose of tomato fertiliser every two weeks. Ease off a little once your courgettes begin to fatten up.
Dealing with pests and problems
Like any tasty crop, courgettes can be vulnerable to various critters and conditions that can stunt their growth. Here are some of the more common pests and problems to watch out for:
Grey mould – This annoying grey fungus generally appears if conditions are too damp. Try not to get any water on the leaves while watering. If any leaves start to show signs of mould, snip them off.
Mildew – Cold nights or dry conditions can cause powdery white patches of mildew to appear on the leaves. Keep the soil moist and make sure the courgette plant has plenty of space around it. Cut off infected leaves.
How to harvest courgettes
Although it can be tempting to let your courgettes grow into sizeable squashes, the best time to harvest them is actually when they're relatively small. You can start picking in June and still have new veggies right through until October.
Pick the courgettes once they've reached about 4 inches long to enjoy the nutty taste and soft texture of the veg. This also helps the plant to grow even more courgettes for a longer period.
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