How to Grow Courgette Plants

Posted by Jessica Mcnamara on

Courgette plants are a fantastic addition to any garden, offering a delicious and versatile vegetable that can be used in a variety of dishes. Growing courgettes is relatively straightforward, and with the right care, you can enjoy a plentiful harvest. This guide will provide you with all the information you need to grow healthy and productive courgette plants.

Choosing the Right Variety of Courgette Plants

Selecting the right variety of courgette plants is the first step in ensuring a successful harvest. Popular varieties include:

  • Green Bush Courgettes
    These are the most common type and are known for their dark green skin and tender flesh.

  • Yellow Courgettes
    Yellow courgettes add a splash of colour to your garden and dishes, and they have a slightly sweeter flavour compared to green varieties.

  • Round Courgettes
    Perfect for stuffing, round courgettes are unique and can make an attractive addition to your garden.

Additionally, some courgettes are striped, such as the Romanesco Latino variety or the Goldmine.

Preparing the Soil for Courgette Plants

Courgette plants thrive in well-drained, fertile soil. Here are the steps to prepare your soil:

  • Soil Testing
    Conduct a soil test to determine the pH and nutrient levels. Courgettes prefer a pH between 6.0 and 7.5.

  • Adding Organic Matter
    Incorporate plenty of organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, into the soil to improve fertility and drainage.

  • Ensuring Proper Drainage
    Ensure the planting area has good drainage to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot.

Planting Courgette Seeds

You can start courgette seeds indoors or sow them directly in the garden.

  • Starting Seeds Indoors
    Sow courgette seeds indoors about 4-6 weeks before the last frost date. Use seed trays or pots filled with seed compost. Keep the soil moist and place the trays in a warm, sunny location.

  • Direct Sowing
    If you prefer to sow seeds directly outdoors, wait until the soil has warmed up and there is no risk of frost. Plant the seeds on their side about 1cm deep and space them 90 cm apart. Sow 3 seeds together, so if one or two fail, you still have a plant. If more than one germinates, thin out to leave the strongest one.

Sowing Outdoors

If sowing early in the season, cover with a cloche to increase the temperature. Seedlings will be eaten by slugs and snails, so they will need extra protection.

Caring for Courgette Plants

Proper care is essential for healthy courgette plants.

  • Watering
    Courgettes are thirsty plants and need a lot of water for a good crop. It's best to give them a really good soak each time, as this encourages roots to go deeper into the soil, rather than frequent light watering.

  • Mulching
    Apply a layer of mulch around the plants to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Don’t let the mulch touch the stem as this may lead to rotting.

  • Feeding
    Feed courgette plants with a balanced fertiliser every two weeks to promote healthy growth and a good yield. Use a high potash fertiliser once the fruits start to appear, increasing to every 10 days.

Managing Pests and Diseases

Courgette plants can be susceptible to pests and diseases. Here’s how to manage them:

  • Common Pests

    • Aphids: These small insects can be controlled with insecticidal soap or by introducing natural predators like ladybirds.
    • Squash Bugs: Usually seen in the warmer south of the UK. Handpick or use the same control methods as for aphids.
    • Slugs and Snails: These pests need to be controlled on courgettes.
  • Common Diseases

    • Powdery Mildew: Prevent by ensuring good air circulation and avoiding overhead watering. If it appears, treat with a fungicide.
    • Blossom End Rot: This is caused by calcium deficiency and can be prevented by maintaining consistent soil moisture and avoiding over-fertilising.
    • Flower and Small Fruit Rot: In poor wet weather, especially early in the season, flowers or small fruits may rot. Pick these off and dispose of them to encourage new flowers and fruit. This is less of an issue as the summer progresses.

Harvesting Courgettes

Courgettes are best harvested when they are young and tender. This is usually when they are about 15-20 cm long. Regular harvesting encourages the plant to produce more fruit.

  • How to Harvest
    Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the courgettes from the plant, taking care not to damage the stem. Any courgettes left on the plant will continue to grow large and become marrows.

  • Storing Courgettes
    Store harvested courgettes in a cool, dry place. They can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week. Additionally, the flowers are edible and can be used in a variety of culinary dishes.

Growing courgette plants can be a rewarding experience, providing you with fresh, home-grown vegetables throughout the summer. By following these steps and giving your plants the care they need, you can enjoy a successful and productive courgette harvest. Happy gardening!

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