Courgette

Other names: Marrow / Zucchini

A courgette or zucchini is a small marrow.

Courgette comes from the French courge, meaning marrow, and Zucchini comes from the Italian zucca, also meaning marrow

Its flower can be eaten fried or stuffed.

Like all members of the squash family, courgettes are heavy feeders so soil preparation is paramount.

Choose a well drained spot that gets plenty of sunshine and is sheltered from the wind.

Prepare the planting hole by digging a 500mm (18") square/diameter hole then fill it with well rotted manure or compost.

Pile the excavated material onto this to form a mound.

Succesive holes should be dug 1 metre (39") apart.

An alternative method is to grow the plants on top of the compost heap.

Again excavate a hole of a suitable size to accept the plant and fill it with compost.



Cultivation

Week 17: Sow seed in 75mm pots of seed compost and germinate at 18°C (65°F).

Germination should take five or six days.

Week 18: Prick out seedlings into individual 70mm (3") pots of potting compost and gradually harden off until planting out time.

Week 22>: Plant out in the pre-prepared spot when all fear of frosts have passed.

Keep plants growing strongly by applying plenty of water in dry weather and feeding at weekly intervals with a quick-acting liquid feed.

There is a potential difficulty in getting plants to set fruit properly, i.e.

Initially plants bear only male flowers when day-length is short, however, as the day-length increases, plants will produce both male and female flowers.

Female flowers are identified by a swelling (immature fruit) at the base of the flower.

Fruit that suffers from top swelling, shrivelling or rotting, indicates incomplete pollination, usually due to cold temperatures and /or lack of visits by pollinating insects.

A solution to this is to hand-pollinate the plants.

To hand-pollinate plants, remove a pollen-bearing male flower, strip it of its petals and rub the flower centre against the centre of the female flower.

Low temperatures, excessive shade, and planting too densely can result in too many male flowers being produced at the expense of female flowers, so take care to avoid this situation.

Week 27: onwards fruit should becoming ready for picking.

Cut fruits when quite small, 100mm (4”) is an ideal length / diameter otherwise production of fruit will cease.


Powdery mildew can be a problem at this time of the year.

There is no cure as such but buying mildew resistant varieties is one way to reduce the possibility of contracting it.

Keeping plants well watered can also help, as does cutting off older leaves at the first sign of the disease.





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