How to grow courgettes. Courgette, also known as zucchini is one of the easiest vegetables you can start growing at home. Courgette plants do not need a lot of attention. Therefore, if you are starting a vegetable garden, be sure to add zucchini to your vegetable gardening experience.
The tips below of how to grow courgettes will be useful. All you need are 2 or 3 healthy courgette plants in the right location and they will produce plenty of courgettes throughout the Summer.
Where to Grow Courgette Plants
When you want to grow courgettes, look for a location that receives plenty of sunshine. Courgettes love sunshine and lots of water. As long as they receive plenty of sunshine and water, once pollination has taken place, the courgettes will grow to a good size within a few days.
Therefore, plan to grow courgettes in a location that receives plenty of sunlight for most of the day. However, courgette or zucchini plants do not like windy conditions. Therefore, protect it from a windy spot. Although the plant may look sturdy, it is weak. A windy spot will cause breakage of leaves.
What You Need to Grow Courgettes
You will need a few bits to start growing courgettes from seed. Below is a list of items you will need:
- Zucchini or courgette seeds such as black beauty or the golden zebra.
- Nutrient rich compost that is suitable for vegetables.
- Seedling tray, reusable containers or make your own DIY compostable pots.
- A small set of garden tools that you can use in your vegetable beds.
- Pruning cutters.
Courgettes grow fast. Therefore, the best time to grow courgettes from seed in the UK is early April. Start the seeds indoors and transfer them outside when the temperature has stabilised.
In Canada and the US, zoning will be different, be sure to check which zone you are in before you plant them outside.
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How to Grow Courgettes
- Fill the seedling tray or pots with compost, about ½ full.
- Place one seed per compartment.
- Cover the seed with compost, water it and leave it in a warm and sunny location.
- The seeds will take 10 to 14 days to sprout.
- Water the sprouts regularly, but do not over water them. Zucchini plants love water, but only when they are starting to flower and fruit.
- When the zucchini plant is approximately10 inches in height with fully formed leaves, keep the plants outside during the day and bring them back inside before the day cools down. You have to do this so that the plant can start to get use to the outside temperature and environment.
- Once the outside temperature stabilises and there is no risk of frost, you can grow the courgette plants outside.
- When you are ready to plant them outside, dig a hole with a depth the size of the courgette plant and place it in the hole.
- You can also grow courgettes in pots. Simply fill half of the pot with compost, place the courgette and cover up the roots with more compost.
- Courgette leaves are quite big and therefore require a lot of space. On average, keep the plants about 2 feet apart. If you are planning to grow the courgette in a pot, place one plant per pot.
- Cover the plant with fresh compost and water it regularly.
How to Pollinate Courgette Plants
In May, you will start to notice that the plants will produce bright yellow coloured flowers. Zucchini plants need bees and insects for successful pollination.
You might notice that early flowers will bloom, then wilt and drop off. This is because pollination did not take place successfully. However, as the days progress and pollinators frequently visit your garden, future flowers should produce courgettes.
It is important to note that most courgette plants have both male and female flowers, which makes pollination easy. However, sometimes, the plants will produce all male or female flowers only. If this happens, then the plant will not produce courgettes. Therefore, it is best to have more than one plant to improve the chances of cross pollination.
You can help speed up pollination by gently scraping pollen from the male flower and transferring it to the female flower. Use a soft paintbrush to do so.
Courgette flowers bloom early in the morning, therefore do it as soon as the flowers are open. At some point in the day, the flowers will close.
Related Article: How to Grow Potatoes in a Bag
How to Water Courgettes
Courgettes need to be watered regularly, especially when they start to fruit. Water the plants early in the morning or then in the evening. This will enable the plant to absorb all of the water rather than losing it to the Summer heat. Water the courgette plant from the base to ensure that the surface of the leaves remain dry.
Courgettes are super fast growers. You could be harvesting a courgette every 3 days from the time it starts to develop. The beauty about a courgette is that it can be harvested at any time.
You could harvest them as baby courgettes, which are suitable for salads or wait until they are fully formed.
To harvest the courgette, use a prune cutter to cut the base of the courgette stem.
Courgette Plant Maintenance
Courgette plants do not need much maintenance. They are an easy going vegetable, however, below are some tips to help you look after the courgette plant throughout the summer:
- Grow more than one courgette plant to improve the chances of pollination.
- When you are purchasing seeds, it is best practice to buy seeds of different brands just in case one packet has seeds which only produce one set of flowers. This is in case you have a plant that produces all male or all female flowers only.
- Courgettes need plenty of water, keep the soil moist and water at the base of the plant.
- When the female flower has been pollinated, it will shrivel and drop off. Once you see that the flowers are turning into baby courgettes, prune the plant. Remove old leaves so that the plant diverts energy to grow the vegetable instead of the leaf.
- You might find that some leaves have a milky film on them. This is usually not a problem unless the leaves become yellow and dry out. If you are concerned, try spraying the leaves with 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water once a week. The spray should clear up the film.
- Place some straw or shredded paper at the base of the courgette plant to stop the courgettes from touching the ground. This will reduce the chances of it rotting.
The Environmental Benefits when you Grow Courgettes at Home
- When you grow courgettes at home, once again you reduce your food miles and carbon footprint.
- The environmental impact of growing courgettes is lower than most vegetables because of how fast courgettes grow and how many courgettes each plant can produce. However, on average, more than 300 litres of water is required to produce a kilogram of courgette when grown on an industrial scale. Growing courgettes at home will use much less water than that, hence, reducing the strain on water consumption.
- Most courgettes are sold in a plastic package. When you grow courgettes at home, you are reducing plastic packaging waste.
- Finally, courgettes can be frozen. Therefore, if you find that you grew more than you needed, simply wash the rest, chop and freeze in small portions. The frozen courgettes can be used in vegetable pasta, stir fries and grilled as a side dish.
Easy Recipe Idea for Courgettes
- 2 small courgettes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon tangy hot chill sauce
- Salt and coarse black pepper to taste
- 1 small red onion, very finely chopped
Finely slice the courgettes – long slices. Toss the sliced courgettes in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place the courgettes on a BBQ tray and grill them for about 10 minutes
Make a dressing with the rest of the ingredients.
Once the courgettes are cooked, toss them in the dressing
Serves 2 people. The warm courgette salad goes well as a side dish with barbequed meats.
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I have shared how I grow courgettes. If you have never grown courgettes, give it a go and see how it goes.
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