How To Grow - Courgettes, Marrows and Squash

Courgettes, marrows and squash produce a bounty of tasty vegetables – they’re productive plants and easy to grow! Courgette flowers can also be used in a variety of recipes – fried as fritters, stuffed, in salads. . . We’ve put together this easy guide for growing these plants and producing your own harvest of courgettes.

When and where

Courgettes, marrows and squash are planted and cared for in the same way. Plant seeds from late March through to May if growing in pots, or in late May to July if planting straight into the ground. The location for planting should be in plenty of full sunlight and sheltered. Ideally, the soil should be neutral or slightly acid. Mix in plenty of well-rotted organic matter or compost prior to planting.

How to plant

To plant out seeds in pots, fill standard 7 to 8 cm pots with compost. Firm it down and sow a seed 2.5 cm deep, on its side. Water in and place on a windowsill or in a propagator. It is time to pot on when roots show through the drainage holes of the pot. Transplant into a 12 to 13 cm container, and then in late May to July pot on again to a final location – into a growing bag, large pot or into a soil bed. To sow your courgette, marrow or squash seeds directly into soil (prepared as outlined above), sow two seeds on their side 2.5 cm deep. Leave spaces of around 90 cm between plantings, depending on variety planted. Bear in mind that trailing varieties of marrow, for example, will need over a metre of space to grow in. Once the seedlings start to grow, weed out the weaker of the two.

Harvesting

At the height of the courgette season, harvest from your plants several times a week – this will ensure that the plants keep productive. Pick when the size of the fruit is as required – courgettes generally grow to around 10 cm; marrows to twice this length, and squash is harvested when they have reached the right weight and size depending on variety. Severe fruit from the plant with a sharp knife; cut marrows with a long stem. Marrows can be left to mature on the plant for later use. Marrows will keep once picked if kept at a low temperature – if you intend to store marrows, pick them once the stem has begun to dry out. If you can break the skin with a fingernail, then marrows have passed their best.

Through the year

Water the plants regularly and mulch to retain moisture. If the soil is lighter or is sandy, apply liquid feed at regular intervals to give the plants a boost. Some gardeners grow their courgettes on a mound, but this tends to produce extra foliage and fewer fruits.

Handy tips

Insects will pollinate the plants – from the male flowers to the female flowers. However, if there is continued cold weather, a lack of insects may mean that pollination does not occur and fruit doesn’t set. To counter this, pollinate the flowers yourself by transferring pollen on a finger or soft brush. The female flowers can be identified by the slight swelling behind the flower.


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