If you want to grow bumper crops of delicious courgettes, this is the place to start. We’ve searched the internet to bring together the best independent articles, videos and Instagram posts about every aspect of growing courgettes. From sowing courgette seeds through to delicious recipes, here’s everything you need to know about this versatile crop.
How to plant courgettes
To sow courgettes, use a regular propagator seed tray filled with general-purpose compost, says Lee at Project Diaries. This year, this engaging YouTube gardener is growing his plants in containers to save space. When planting courgette seeds, his rule of thumb is to poke them into the soil at two to three times their own depth, pat the surface to firm them in and water. Put the propagator lid on and put them on a warm window sill.
“Just two or three of these plants is enough to keep a small family in these versatile fruits all summer long,” says Ben Vanheems at the ever-popular YouTube channel, GrowVeg. To help you get started, he’s produced an excellent video taking you from sowing your courgette seeds through to a “glorious harvest.” Your first job is to choose from compact, bushy, or trailing types. Check out Ben’s video to discover which will suit you best.
There’s really no rush to get your courgette seeds into the ground – if you sow yours indoors in April, you’ll be looking to plant them out in late May or early June. Did you plant yours early? You’re not the only one. Check out Melanie from @thegingerallotment. Her courgette is super early, flowing in April but, as she says, “I don’t mind as having the plants around makes me happy.”
How to grow courgettes
Bush courgettes are great if you have plenty of space, but if your growing area is limited, take a look at this post from June at @handkerchiefgarden. She raves about her favourite new way to grow courgettes: “Grew them vertically last year and will never look back ! Such a space saver, easy picking and less pest damage.” If you’re looking for good varieties to grow vertically, she suggests ‘Eight Ball’ which she says is great stuffed, and courgette ‘Zephyr’, which has an “amazing nutty taste.”
“Choose a sunny spot for your plants and dig in some well rotted manure in the autumn,” says Gail from the excellent blog, Growing Healthy Kids. She adds, “If you have heavy soil like mine, it’s best to rake the soil into a mound and plant into the top of this. That way the plant doesn’t sit in wet soil which causes the stems to rot.” For more courgette knowhow, do check out the rest of Gail’s post, especially her recipe for a cheap and effective – if stinky – courgette feed.
Tempted to leave your courgettes to grow into marrows? John Harrison at Allotment & Gardens says that’s just fine since there’s no real difference between them anyway. Having said that, if you are going for marrows, John’s advice is to choose a variety bred for that purpose because you’ll achieve better results. Do remember to plant your marrows far enough apart to allow for growth – 2.5-3ft is about right, and be ready to water and feed as the fruits swell.
How to harvest courgettes
Harvest as soon as your courgettes are ready, says Liz Zorab at Byther Farm. She says this is particularly important for the yellow varieties which, “really do need to be harvested when they’re quite small and the skin is quite soft and the flesh inside is quite sweet.” This useful little titbit of courgette best practice features among Liz’s 10 garden errors to avoid. Head over to her blog for the rest.
Over at the inspirational gardening Insta account, @edinthegarden, Ed posts a splendid image of his squashes and courgettes looking wonderfully healthy. A gardener well worth a follow for his London garden and house diary, his advice for courgette growers is short and succinct: “Pick them small and often.”
If your first few courgettes fall from the plant when they’re the size of your pinky, don’t worry, says @cotswoldpotager. It happens because there aren’t yet enough male flowers to properly pollinate the females. Wondering what you should do? Nothing. As this Instagrammer says, the situation will rectify itself and you’ll soon be inundated with healthy fruits.
If you’d like to keep harvesting courgettes well into late summer and early autumn, try growing them under glass. Over at Life on Pig Row, the Oldhams have been doing just that. Andrew Oldham says he decided to give greenhouse growing a try because his courgettes only seem to get going when autumn strikes them down. His verdict on the experiment? “The greenhouse has done what I wanted it to do, it has extended our season when it comes to courgettes.”
If you get the growing conditions right, courgettes are prolific fruiters, but if you thought you were limited to the wonders of the fruits themselves, think again. Over at @a_lancashire_allotment, Colette has also been busy harvesting some of the male courgette flowers – as she says, she loves “eating stuffed or battered flowers minutes after packing them… yum!”
Grated courgette pasta is one of Peter’s favourite ways to enjoy his courgette harvest over at A Thorny Pot. Simply boil some pasta, add two grated courgettes, spring onions, and garlic and a couple of tablespoons of cream cheese and stir on a low heat. This quick, easy recipe serves three, but do take a look at Peter’s excellent Youtube video which takes you from sowing seeds through to eating.
Even if you normally harvest your courgettes small, it’s inevitable that with such fast growing fruit, the odd one will escape your notice and grow big. That’s no problem for Jessie at YouTube channel, Plot 57. She says you can stuff courgettes with pretty much anything from left over chilli to rice-based veggie options. Join her as she enjoys a glass of wine and demonstrates how to stuff a courgette to make a delicious vegetarian meal.
How about a dozen ways to use up your courgette glut? That’s what YouTuber Steve at Digwell Greenfingers offers. Stuck for ideas for summer canapés? Try Steve’s courgette roll ups – shave your courgette into wide ribbons, braise them briefly on a hot griddle, then load them with things like jalapeno peppers, ricotta cheese, salami, Parma ham, sun dried tomatoes and sun dried peppers. Then simply roll up, put a cocktail stick through them and serve with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our selection of some of the best online content about courgettes and now feel ready to grow your own. For more information on any aspect of gardening, our Garden Advice section offers a wealth of helpful information.
Lead image: Courgette Seeds – F1 Midnight from Suttons