New World Little Gardens

courgette pattern
courgette

Courgettes

Cucurbita pepo

These 'Black Beauty' courgettes are easy to grow and can produce fruit almost faster than you can eat it. Just don’t turn your back on them, or they’ll turn into giant marrows. They hate the cold so don’t move into the garden until Labour Weekend at the earliest.

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Getting started

  • Put the soil tablet on a saucer and pour 50ml of water over it.
  • Put on gloves and mix the water into the soil with your hands to make a wet mixture. Watch the soil expand.
  • Use most of your soil to fill up the pot to around 2cm below the top.
  • Carefully tear open the sachet and place the seeds on top of the soil (take care not to press down too hard).
  • Now use the rest of your soil mixture to cover the seed mat.
  • Remember to wash your hands when you’re done!

How to keep your Little Garden healthy

  • Place the pot on a clean saucer in a place with enough light, but not directly in the sun.
  • Check the soil in the morning, and before bed. If the soil feels dry and crumbly, pour a small amount of clean water over the surface.
  • Within 1 week you should see a little plant appear from the soil. That means the seeds have germinated and will be ready soon to move into a bigger pot or garden.
  • If more than one little plant grows, you can thin your courgette seedling by choosing the strongest-looking one and removing the others.

When your seedling is ready to go in the garden

  • When your plant has 2-3 sets of true leaves (after 2-3 weeks), it’s ready to shift into the garden, but only if the weather is reliably settled and warm (no risk of frost).
  • Get your courgette used to life outside: You can harden off your courgette seedling by putting it in a warm and sheltered spot for 1-2 hours a day and return inside for the night. Do this for 4-5 days, leaving it outside for a little longer each day before you shift it out into the garden forever.

Planting best practice

  • Give your courgette a sunny spot and a really rich soil: dig through some compost and sheep pellets a few weeks before planting. If you have a compost heap, grow your courgettes at its base.
  • Courgette is a sprawling plant that needs a lot of space, so keep it at the edge of the vege bed and keep moving the vine over the side so it doesn’t overwhelm crops growing nearby.

Look after your plant while it’s growing

  • Water regularly while the plant is setting fruit: water only at the base of the stem and avoid wetting the leaves as this can spread fungal infections.

Harvest time

  • Your courgette should start producing fruit 1-2 months after planting outside.
  • The fruit will taste best when it’s about as long as your hand. If you leave any longer, it becomes bland and tasteless and you run the risk of it growing into a giant marrow. Marrows are watery and do not taste very nice.
  • Picking courgettes will also encourage your plant to produce more new fruit.

Watch out

  • Slugs and snails love courgette seedlings, so create your own pest protection, lay out bait or pick off these slimy pests.
  • Courgettes are prone to downy mildew, a fungal infection that causes a grey film on the leaves. If you notice this, remove affected leaves and spray the plant weekly with a milk and baking soda spray. Downy mildew is likely to occur under hot and humid conditions, so give your plants good air circulation.