Grow it Yourself: courgettes (the final in this series)

This is a great crop for a beginner because it is so easy and productive. Rampant, but easy. Courgettes (French) are the same as zucchini (Italian), sometimes reshaped as scallopini (like flattened muffins) and also known as summer squash. They are a cucurbit, as is pumpkin. You probably only need two plants and they will need a good metre each in area. In under two months, they will drown you with such a deluge of produce that you will wonder why they are relatively expensive to buy. If you tire of the taste and texture, look up recipes for stuffed courgette flowers and nip them off in their infancy.

Courgettes are started in individual pots and planted out when soil temperatures rise around late October (or even later in colder areas). You can start seeds in pots under cover in September or just buy a couple of plants when you need them. The reason you start with individually potted plants is because they don’t appreciate their roots being disturbed.. Because they are such large and rampant growers, they need rich, well drained soils. We prefer to use compost to feed all our vegetables. Worm wee would also be a good option or you could turn to some of the off the shelf fertiliser options. Keep the moisture levels up through summer because these are plants with a very high water content. Keep harvesting every couple of days to encourage the plant to keep producing. The time between a desirable little courgette and a large, tasteless marrow is short indeed and if the plant is left with maturing marrows, it will stop producing baby courgettes for you.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.