4.5kg per 3m row
90cm between rows
Courgettes are easy to grow and highly productive plants, bearing masses of delicious, nutty courgettes for use in summer dishes and salads. Just two or three courgettes plants are enough to feed a family, or grow more to give to friends.
How to grow courgettes
Sow courgette seeds in April in pots of peat-free, multi-purpose compost. Pot on seedlings when they’re big enough to handle, and plant outside when all risk of frost has passed. Courgettes are hungry plants, so do well grown in soil enriched with plenty of well-rotted horse manure or compost. Water plants regularly and feed weekly with a high potash fertiliser such as tomato food. harvest courgettes when they are around 10cm long – leaving courgettes to grow larger will reduce the plant’s vigour and fruiting potential.
You can grow courgettes as companion plants with other crops such as beans and sweetcorn. In this video, Monty Don plants a raised bed with tall, slow-growing sweetcorn, then fills the gaps with low-growing courgettes. As they both like the same growing conditions, they make good companions and will give you two crops in one bed:
More advice on growing courgettes:
- How to sow courgette seeds
- How to grow courgettes and climbing beans together
- Dealing with courgette rot
How to grow courgettes from seed
Sow courgette seeds indoors in mid-spring. Sow seeds in pots or module trays using moist, peat-free 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.
Watch Monty Don’s video guide to growing courgettes (and pumpkins) from seed:
If you don’t have the time or space to sow seeds indoors, then you can buy courgette plants from most garden centres in late spring.
How to care for courgette plants
Moisture is the key to success when growing courgettes. A constantly just-moist soil is essential if plants are to crop to their full potential. It’s therefore important to water courgettes regularly and apply a thick layer of mulch around the plants, to hold water in the soil.
In dry conditions, most varieties produce mainly non-fruiting male flowers. To encourage female (fruiting) flowers, water generously and regularly. Apply tomato fertiliser once a fortnight to promote growth and flowering.
In this video, Monty Don demonstrates how to plant out courgette plants, and offers tips on watering and feeding, for the best results:
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 courgettes to develop over a longer period.
Watch Monty Don’s video guide to harvesting courgettes:
Growing courgettes: problem solving
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. Use wildlife-friendly slug pellets as a last resort.
Preparation and uses of courgettes
Courgettes can be steamed, fried or grilled. Spherical varieties are perfect for stuffing then baking.
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.
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.
Great courgette varieties to grow
- ‘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
- ‘Ambassador’ – high-yielding variety, bears dark green fruit with a crisp white flesh, over a long season.