Growing courgettes

by Pippa Greenwood

I adore home-grown courgettes. They lack that slightly bitter taste and spongy texture you can get with supermarket specimens.

Pippa Greenwood holding a basket of freshly harvested courgettesI adore home-grown courgettes. They lack that slightly bitter taste and spongy texture you can get with supermarket specimens. My first fruits were a bit late this year, as I’d delayed planting because of cold weather. They were well worth the wait.

This year I’m growing a couple of different varieties. One is rather straggly, but does crop phenomenally well. Its massive golden flowers are set against a backdrop of pure green leaves. Unfortunately I don’t know the variety name, as the packet is long gone! All I know is that the plant is a Seeds of Italy variety.

The other, ‘Midnight’, is a more of a ‘classic’ courgette shape; far more compact and healthy looking, but it does have slivery grey straight-edged markings on the leaves. At this time of year, I can pretty well guarantee that every time I come across a gaggle of gardeners I’ll be asked if these silvery markings are symptoms of mildew, and whether the plants should be sprayed.

I rather like the streaky appearance, but it does seem to cause a lot of unnecessary worry – and unnecessary spraying. It can be alarming when a plant doesn’t appear as you expect it to (think of those curious, rather unpleasant looking grey-brown patchy folds on the flower end of many beefsteak tomatoes). Features like this might be unexpected, but they’re quite normal. If the plant is cropping well, and seems to be in general good health, I ignore them!

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Gardeners' World Web User 15/07/2010 at 18:38

I am growing courgettes in the greenhouse for the first time this year. I'm not sure if this is a good idea - maybe they would be better outside but I don't have much room. I was wondering, do they need all their leaves or can I remove some - they are taking over the bench.

Gardeners' World Web User 15/07/2010 at 19:33

I couldn't agree more! If anybody hasn't grown courgettes before I find them the most satisfying and easy vegetable to grow. I have been gardening for 3 only years. In the past I have bought plants from a garden centre and they have grown briliantly. This year I took the plunge and grew from seed and they all grew! My friends were delighted with their courgette plant present.

Gardeners' World Web User 15/07/2010 at 19:35

I wouldn't cut the leaves. Do you have a pot you could put them in? This works really well. You'd need quite a large one because you are right space is vital for courgette plants. They will be fine outside if you can find them a pot.

Gardeners' World Web User 15/07/2010 at 20:16

Pippa, we've given up courgettes on the allotment, but still have a few in the garden. I'm not sure of the varieties, but those remaining are what you describe as a more 'classic' form. The smallholding seeds were inherited from a previous owner; I've no idea what they were, but they added a little extra to the pub quiz when the various amusingly shaped surplus vegetables were passed around to other team members. Bring back "That's Life" Esther.

Gardeners' World Web User 16/07/2010 at 13:02

Thanks, Sarah. I'll put them in large heavy outer pots and move them outside.

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