How To Grow Courgette Plants For HUGE Harvests

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 courgette plants 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.

Best Courgette Varieties To Try

With so much choice, it can be difficult to choose the right ones. So here are our favourite varieties of courgettes:

Defender F1: This is one of the most popular varieties to grow, because with this little beauty you can get almost double the yield of other varieties. It is also resistant to the  cucumber mosaic virus, so there is one thing less to worry about. It produces a mid-green slightly speckled courgette and is ideal for small spaces.

Suttons - Courgette Seeds - F1 Defender
62 Reviews
Suttons - Courgette Seeds - F1 Defender
  • Ideal for stir-fries and kebabs
  • High in vitamins A, C and E
  • Leave skin on when cooking

All Green Bush: This is a reliable variety that will mature quickly. The fruit will turn into marrows if left long enough. It will produce dark green fruits and give a good yield.

Johnsons 25394 Vegetable Seeds, COURGETTE All Green Bush
245 Reviews
Johnsons 25394 Vegetable Seeds, COURGETTE All Green Bush
  • Harvest as courgettes or as marrows
  • Dark green tender fruits in abundance
  • Easy to grow

Verde Di Milano: This is a courgette that originated in Italy and you will get fruit all summer into late September, as long as you harvest regularly. It produces a mid-green fruit and is delicious.

Italian COURGETTE - Verde DI Milano - 20 Seeds (Organic)
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Italian COURGETTE - Verde DI Milano - 20 Seeds (Organic)
  • Sow from late Mar under cover placing each seed edgeways 1/2in deep in well drained seed compost. Min temp 65F. Lower temperature will induce rot.
  • Harden off steadily and avoid planting outside until the soil has warmed around early Mid May in UK conditions. Protect young plants from slugs and snails.
  • Plant in a sunny protected site, with soil enriched by organic matter, 24-30in between plants. Keep well watered, fed during summer months and harvest regularly.

Orelia F1: If you are bored with green courgettes, why not try to grow courgette plants of a different variety. This one produces yellow fruits. It’s a heavy cropper, so you will get plenty. It also shows good mildew resistance.  This courgette grows more open, which makes it easier to pick your fruit.

If you have a very small garden or not much space, then why not try a climbing courgette. They grow up a trellis like beans and save a lot of space. Our recommendation for vining varieties is Shooting Star F1.

Mr Fothergill’s 17469 COURGETTE Shooting Star F1, Green
28 Reviews
Mr Fothergill’s 17469 COURGETTE Shooting Star F1, Green
  • Habit: Climbing
  • Ideal for limited space
  • Good source of vitamin C

Sowing Courgette Seeds

You have two options when it comes to sowing your courgette seeds. Either you can sow them indoors or straight outdoors.

Sowing Indoors

Courgettes should be sown in April or May indoors in 3 inch (7cm) pots of peat-free multipurpose compost. Ideally, your compost should be warm, so keep it in a greenhouse or shed.

To make sure you get a seedling, plant two seeds per pot.

You want to press them into the firmed up soil on their sides. Then cover the seeds with compost to keep them warm. Then water them well, ideally with water at room temperature.

Top Tip: I have a small watering can by my kettle and put any boiled water I didn’t use in there. This saves water and makes sure I always have water for my houseplants or seeds.

Courgettes are very tender plants and will be badly affected if they get hit by frost. To prevent this, put them in a propagator or on the windowsill. 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 too 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 small pots for too long will really affect the growth long term and can reduce your crop later in the season.

Sowing Outdoors

If you prefer, you can sow your courgettes outdoors, directly into your bed. You can do this once there is no more risk of a late frost. In the UK, this is normally in late May or early June. When you grow courgette plants it’s good keep an eye on the weather forecast.

Sow them the same way as you do indoors in pots. But you will have to prepare the soil.

Courgettes are heavy feeders and need a lot of nutrients, so make sure you mix manure or compost into the soil where you want to plant your courgettes.

Planting The Seedlings Outdoors

Planting outdoors can only begin once the danger 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 chicken manure is also acceptable. This chicken manure has worked well for me in the past.

Westland Organic Chicken Manure Pellets, 5 kg
835 Reviews
Westland Organic Chicken Manure Pellets, 5 kg
  • Composted chicken manure pellets
  • Ideal for soil enrichment and improvement
  • Use for feeding all around the garden

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, regular watering will help keep up production. Pests and diseases rarely bother strong, fast growing courgette plants.

How To Care For Your Courgettes

Like other members of the cucurbit family, the courgette is a hungry plant, so you have to make sure you feed it regularly, once every week is best. You want to use a fertiliser that is high in potash, as this will help the plant produce more fruit. You can use any tomato food for that purpose. This is the one I use.

Sale
Levington Tomorite Concentrated Tomato Food 2.5 Litre, Red
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Levington Tomorite Concentrated Tomato Food 2.5 Litre, Red
  • Easy to apply simply mix with water in a watering can according to instructions
  • For tomatoes and flowering pot plants
  • With seaweed extract for maximum growth and better crops

Their fruits consist mostly of water, so they need to make sure they have moist soil at all times. This means regular watering. To help keep in the moisture, you can also top the compost around your plant with mulch, such as leave mulch, to look in the moisture. If your courgettes are too dry, they won’t produce female flowers, which are the ones who produce the fruits.

Because the courgette produces male flowers as well as female flowers, they need pollination to bear fruits, unless you have a self-pollinating variety. This means you have to make sure that you have plenty of pollinators in your garden, such as bees.

One way to achieve this, is by planting pollinator friendly companion plants in your garden to attract them, If you don’t know what companion plants are, then read our complete guide about companion planting for vegetables in the UK.

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!

My neighbours love it when I grow courgette plants, because they always get some.

Pests And Diseases Affecting Courgettes

Like most plants, courgettes can also be affected by diseases and pests, most commonly slugs and snails and powdery mildew.

Pests Attaching Courgette Plants

slug close up

Slugs and snails are known to be the most common garden pests. However, they are also very important for the ecosystem and, as responsible gardeners, we should avoid slug pallets, because they kill them.

They love young leaves, so your courgettes are most vulnerable when you first put them out as seedlings. But the good news is, it’s easy to protect them.

A very simple trick is to use a plastic bottle, like an old squash bottle, to cover your seedlings. Just cut it in half and put the top half, without the top, over your seedling. To make absolutely sure, cover the top of the bottle with some garden netting.

Once the plants have grown big enough, you can remove the bottle. You will know that they are big enough, when they fill the whole bottle. 

Well established and healthy plants will be able to tolerate the odd slug or snail. And once they are no longer seedlings, they aren’t attractive to them anyway.

Diseases Affecting Courgettes

The main diseases that can cause problems for your courgette plants are powdery mildew and grey mould.

Grey Mould

This is another fungal disease, which thrives in wet conditions. An infected plant will show signs of a fuzzy, grey mould on stems and leaves. 

The mould can damage all parts of the plant, including flowers, so it can decrease the yield. It often occurs in wet summers.

The best plan of action is again to try and prevent an infection:

  • Space out your plants to allow good air circulation
  • water from below to avoid getting the foliage wet
  • keep the ground around the plant weed free and tidy away any dead debris

And, as with powdery mildew, if you spot any signs, remove the infected part of the plant and destroy it.

Powdery Mildew

Courgette leaf affected by powdery mildew

This is a fungal disease that particularly likes courgettes. It’s easy to spot, you will see a white, powdery layer on the courgette leaves. 

The cause is an uneven distribution of water in the ground and moisture in the air. A heavy infection with this disease can kill your plant.

Thankfully, it is easy to prevent this disease, which is the best way to deal with it:

  • water your plants regularly, ideally from below, to keep the foliage dry.
  • plant your courgettes well spaced out to allow good air circulation. That way, the foliage will dry off quickly.
  • keep the area around the plant free from weeds and dead debris

If you do spot any signs, remove the infected part of the plant immediately and destroy it. Do not compost it, as the spores can survive there. 

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have not found the answer to your question about how to grow courgette platns in the above article, you might find it in our FAQ section.

Why doesn’t my courgette produce fruits?

There could be two reasons. If you have self-pollinating plants, then the reason is probably that they don’t get enough water.

Female flowers, the ones that will produce the fruit, will only develop if the plant has enough water. So make sure you water it regularly. 

If you have plants that need pollinating, then the reason is probably that you don’t have enough pollinators in your garden, such as bees.

Try to encourage bees and other pollinators into your garden by planting pollinator friendly flowers, such as Chives, Comfrey, Crocus, Marigold, Nasturtiums, Lavender, Honeysuckle, Ivy, and many more. Here are some tips on how to grow plants for bees from Gardeners World.

Do courgettes do well in shade?

No, courgettes need sun, the more, the better. So, if you want to grow courgette plants successfully, you have to reserve a sunny spot in the garden for them. Make sure you give them plenty of water though, as otherwise they won’t thrive.

How to grow courgette plants in pots?

Yes, you can absolutely grow courgettes in pots! Make sure you put them in a big enough pot though, as they tend to spread out a bit.

When you your seedlings are ready to be planted on, rather than putting them in a bed, plant them in a big pot. Make sure you position the container in a sunny spot.

An only put the outside once any risk of frost has passed. Water them regularly and they should thrive!

Now that you know who to grow courgette plants, nothing stands in your way of eating delicious courgettes all summer!

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