Courgette, Zucchini, Summer Squash
Courgettes are an easy-to-grow summer crop which produce abundant fruits as well as large and versatile bright yellow flowers. The fruit can be sliced and eaten raw in salads or baked, roasted or fried. Courgette flowers may be eaten on their own or attached to young courgettes.
Average height: 50cm
Aspect: Sunny position. Avoid windy sites
Soil type: Most soil conditions, but preferably rich with plenty of organic matter and free draining.
Sowing period: Indoors March-May. Outdoors May or June
First signs of blossom: 6 to 8 weeks
Average flowering period: 2 months
Contents: Approximately 50 seeds
To get the best harvest from your courgettes, prepare the ground in winter or early spring with the application of well-rotted manure or compost to improve soil structure and ensure sufficient nutrients for these hungry plants. Mulching around the plants will also add nutrients and help to retain moisture.
Sow seeds or seedlings outdoors, 2cm deep and 1m apart. You can sow two seeds together and remove the weakest seedling once they emerge. Courgettes must be regularly watered and not allowed to dry out.
Courgettes can be prone to attack by slugs and snails when they are small so ensure that they are protected at this stage. This can be done by cutting the ends off some large clear plastic drinks bottles and placing them over each of the young plants.
Courgette plants produce both male and female flowers . Only the female flowers will result in a courgette. Even when the flowers are still small you can tell the difference between the two because the female flower will always have a tiny immature fruit beneath it.
Early in the season the plant will tend to produce mainly male flowers, and if there are no female flowers, the male ones will simply fall off. Harvest the male flowers to eat , although you will need to leave a few for pollination purposes. You can eat the female flowers but this will reduce the yield of fruit.