Learn how to grow zucchini for delicious summer squash recipes.
Whether you call them courgettes, zucchini or baby marrow, these vegetables are all the same thing. They fall into the gourd family and are normally picked as immature vegetables but if you leave them on the plant they will grow up to 50cm long.
We planted our courgettes in early spring and had the most abundant harvest right through summer. Some we ate as baby marrows others we allowed to get as big as our forearms. Either way they were delicious and will be a permanent vegetable for us in the warmer months. The picture to the left is one of our plants.
Excited about growing zucchini yet? Read on to find out how!
How to grow zucchini – planting
Seeds can be sown in the warm seasons of spring and summer. Sow seeds directly into freshly dug over, composted soil which has been banked up into mounds. Sow two seeds in one whole in the mound about 1m apart. This is important for space as the plant grows large and you need good air flow to reduce the risk of mildew on the leaves.
Long term care & harvesting
Keep well watered until germination, and afterwards, as they loose a lot of moisture through their large surface area on the leaves. If you find that your female flowers (the one with a tiny marrow attached to the base) are not being pollinated you may have to do it by hand. You will know this is happening if the vegetable turns yellow and shrivels up. It is quite easy to hand pollinate, you just have to know the difference between a male and female flower.
Female flowers, as mentioned already, have a baby vegetable attached to the base where the petiole is. This is the same for all squash. The male flower has just the stalk, petiole and flower. So to hand pollinate you take a Q-tip and touch it to the pollen on the male flower, then you take the pollen from this flower to the female flower and touch it in the stigma.
Now that you have learnt how to play bee, you can do this for all your squashes if necessary.
To harvest zucchini, use a sharp knife and cut it off the plant at the stem which is the fluted part at the bottom.
If you see white flaky spots appearing on your leaves, it means your plants have mildew. You can try some of these pest control methods to stop the spread of the milddew. be sure to only surface irrigate so that the leaves are never damp and water in the morning so that the soil suface is dry by evening when the spores tend to spread.
When to plant: Spring and summer
How many plants: 4 plants per sowing
How long to harvest: 8 – 10 weeks depending the season.
Successive planting: Every 4 – 6 weeks.
EASY ZUCCHINI RECIPE
We love our courgettes sliced diagonally, fried in a little olive oil or butter with some freshly milled black pepper.Larger zucchini are grated and added to bolognaise sauce or stews.
But the best is to make a zucchini cake or muffins by substituting carrot in any carrot cake recipe