Courgettes

Courgettes – Grow Guide

Discover how to sow, plant and grow courgettes, in this practical growing guide.

Overview

Simple to grow in a warm, sunny spot, courgettes are highly productive. So, unless you have an unusually large number of mouths to feed, just two or three plants should be enough.
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Sow
Sow
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Yes
Yes
Plant
Plant
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Yes
Harvest
Harvest
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Spacing: 90cm apart 90cm between rows

Depth: 2.5cm

Avg yield: 4.5kg per 3m row

Growing courgettes from seed

Sowing and planting

For early crops, sow courgette seeds indoors in mid-spring. Sow seeds in pots or module trays using moist multi-purpose compost. For later crops, sow seeds outside in late spring.

When seedlings appear, move stronger ones to larger pots. Throw away weaker seedlings. Grow on indoors until ready to plant outside in late spring, after the last frost. Space plants 90cm apart, then mulch the surrounding soil generously to hold in moisture.

If you don't have the time or space to sow seeds indoors, then you can buy ready-grown, vigorous plants from most garden centres in late spring.

Tending the crop

Plenty of moisture is the key to success. A constantly just-moist soil is essential if plants are to crop to their full potential. So water regularly and apply a thick layer of mulch to hold water in the soil.

In dry conditions, most varieties produce mainly non-fruiting male flowers. To encourage female flowers, which are the ones that produce fruit, water generously and regularly. Apply tomato fertiliser once a fortnight to promote growth and flowering.

Harvesting courgettes

Cut courgettes while they are small (about 10cm long is ideal), rather than leaving them to grow to the size of marrows – this will help to encourage more fruits.

Storing courgettes

Courgettes are best used fresh, but can be kept for a short period of time by storing in a cool, dry place. Alternatively, turn gluts into chutneys or pickles.

Preparation and uses

Courgettes can be steamed, fried or grilled. Spherical varieties are perfect for stuffing then baking.

Troubleshooting

Courgette rot is a common problem in damp weather. It often spreads from the faded flower into the end of the courgette itself. Never water plants from above – always direct water down onto the soil around the stem. Keep a close eye on plants during wet weather and remove any soggy flowers from the end of developing fruits. Deter slugs by putting crushed shells around the stem base, or use a biological pest control.
Fresh courgettes

Try a climbing courgette

Although most courgettes trail along the ground, there are climbing varieties for those short of space. 'Black Forest' and 'Tromboncino' are easy to train up a stake, as long as they are regularly tied in as they grow.

Courgette varieties to try

  • ‘Defender’ – a heavy cropper with green fruits and good disease resistance
  • ‘Gold Rush’ – with long, golden-yellow fruits
  • ‘One Ball’ – the vibrant yellow, spherical fruits have a creamy flesh
  • ‘Tondo di Nizza’ – tennis ball-sized, pale green fruit
  • 'Venus' - a compact patio variety, ideal in pots
  • ‘Zucchini’ – prolific, classic green courgette

Related content

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French beans – Grow Guide

Lettuces – Grow Guide

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