When to plant courgettes – top tips for growing the best courgettes

Hemsley and Hemsley courgette recipie

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Courgettes come in several varieties. Courgette plants can be compact and bushy, trailing or climbing, while fruits can be green, yellow or striped. Courgette seeds are relatively large and flat, making them easy to work with. Plants can be grown in traditional rows on the vegetable patch in your garden, spacing about 90cm apart or dotted around the patch to fill in the gaps. Courgettes perform best in free draining soils, but make sure to add plenty of organic matter, such as well rotted manure or homemade compost, when you’re preparing the site for planting.

When to plant courgettes

Courgette plants, just as many others, are very tender to the frost.

This means they should be treated as a seasonal crop, faring best in the summer months.

Sowing should be well timed so plants are ready to go outside after the last frost of the spring.

Sowing them too late means you risk not getting a crop harvest before the first frosts of autumn.

Whether they’re in the ground or in pots, make sure to choose an open and sunny position for optimum results.

For outdoor sowing, start in late May or early June in the UK.

Prepare your sowing site by digging in lots of home-made compost or the manure to about the depth of a width of a spade’s blade.

Then, sow two or three seeds ninth centre, going in about 2.5cm (1inch) deep.

Cover with a cloche, jar or plastic, and leave in place for two weeks, or as long as possible after germination.

If more than one seed germinates, remove the smaller and weaker seedling to leave just the strongest.

You can also buy young courgette plants from garden centres in the spring.

Once again, plant out in late May or early June once all the risk of frost has dissipated.

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How to care for your courgettes

Keep plants well watered to stop soils or container compost from drying out.

Use a one-off long season fertiliser at planting time, or apply a weekly liquid tomato feed to the courgettes once they start flowering.

Courgette flowers are insect pollinated.

During a cold season where there could be a lack of natural pollinators, if fruits just aren’t coming through, settings can be improved with hand pollination.

Pick a male flower (one with no immature fruit behind the flower) and pull away the petals before inserting the stamens into each female flower to transfer the pollen.

Courgette plants sown in early April could be ready to harvest as early as June, depending on weather and growing conditions – but late July and August provide the best harvesting opportunities.

Aim to harvest several times a week through the season to stop developing fruits from growing too big.

Courgette plants are at their best when they reach about 10cm, and if left to grow longer they will lose texture and flavour, while fruiting may be greatly reduced.

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