Courgettes are one of the most productive crops that vegetable gardeners can grow, one plant can easily produce twenty or more courgettes in just one season. Even with just a few plants you’ll have courgettes coming out of your ears by August! Most families would really struggle to eat the harvests from two courgette plants.
You’ll learn step by step how to grow courgettes in your vegetable garden and get incredible crops.
Before we get to sowing your courgettes it’s worth noting the huge range of different courgettes available, different sizes, shapes, colours, patterns and tastes are all available. The range of unusual varieties available is probably only second to tomatoes.
Sowing Courgette Seeds Indoors
Although courgette seed can be planted straight outside the UK climate really isn’t long enough to get a good crop from courgette seeds that are planted outside after the last frost.
Courgettes should be sown in April indoors in 3 inch (7cm) pots of good compost.
Courgettes are very tender plants and will be badly affected if they get hit by frost, to prevent this sow in a cool greenhouse or windowsill and cover with a fleece if exceptionally cold weather is expected.
The germination time for courgettes is 5-7 days under good conditions.
Once the seeds have germinated they will begin to grow at an amazing space, the 3 inch pots will quickly be to small for the courgette plants, within 3 weeks it’s essential that you either plant in a larger pot or outdoors (if it is safe to do so). Leaving your plants in the small pots to long will really affect the growth long term and can reduce your crop later in the season.
Planting The Seedlings Outdoors
Planting outdoors can only begin once the risk of frost has passed.
Tough plants like broad beans and onions can often be moved straight from the greenhouse to the open ground but this certainly isn’t true with courgettes. It will take at least 7 days to acclimatise the plants to the temperature outside, this is done by placing the plants outside during the heat of the day but returning them back to the greenhouse in the evenings.
This hardening off process can be helped by using some protection for the plants (a cloche or fleece) once they are transplanted into the garden.
When the weather is finally good enough to transplant they should be planted three feet (90cm) apart. Courgette plants will grow quickly and although the plant may be small now it will fill this space by the end of September.
The soil that you plant in is important as courgettes take a lot from the soil. Ideally you are looking to plant out in a bed that has had a liberal amount of compost added, manure or pelleted chicken manure is also acceptable. Some people plant their courgette plants in a dip so the rain in the summer months collects around the plant.
Once in the ground courgettes are really very simple to grow. In warm weather a good watering will help keep up production. Pests and disease rarely bother strong fast growing courgette plants.
The Right Way To Harvest Courgettes
Before long you will be picking courgettes, it’s not usual to be harvesting every other day in the heat of the summer.
There is always the temptation to pull or twist the courgette from the plant but this is a mistake as it can damage the growing stem. The best method of harvesting is to cut the courgette from the plant with a sharp knife.
Be sure to pick the courgettes when they are still small, especially at the start of the season. The temptation is to leave the courgettes to get as large as possible to increase yield but by picking small courgettes regularly the taste will be at their best and it will encourage the growth of more courgettes.
Courgettes are one of my favourite plants to grow but are known by every gardener to provide a huge glut so please do not be surprised if you are tired of courgettes by September!