One of the easiest and prolific vegetables to grow, courgettes are a great choice for your garden. All of our varieties are bush types so the plants are more compact though they can still get quite large. Try to pick courgettes regularly when they are quite small, between 10 and 15 cm long, to ensure a regular supply throughout the summer. They come in a variety of shapes and colour; elongated or round, dark green, yellow and stripy. The flowers are large and yellow. Male flowers are on straight stems while the female flowers have the immature fruits at their base. They are pollinated by bees and other insects.
Cocozelle is a traditional striped courgette which is widely grown in Mediterranean areas and is growing in popularity in the UK. This is among the tastiest of all courgettes with a distinctive nuttiness and firmness of texture.
How to grow: Sow seeds in pots or modules of good organic compost in April or May. A temperature of 20 deg C will ensure quick and reliable germination. Pot up module grown plants when the first true leaves appear and harden off, (see celery), the young plants before planting. Plant in the Miscellaneous section of your rotation once all danger of frost has passed. You will need to allow at least 60 cms between plants. Courgettes can be grown direct in may, 2 seeds at the 60cms spacing. Water during dry spells.
Pests and diseases: Protect young plants from slugs. Courgettes can be effected by Cucumber mosaic virus. CMV is spread by aphids and causes stunted growth and mottled leaves with alternating light green and dark green patches but don’t confuse this with the natural colouration of courgette leaves. The yellow fruited varieties particularly have quite yellow leaves. Courgettes can also suffer from powdery mildew, a foliar fungal disease which causes whitish grey patched to form and spread on the leaves. It is usually only a problem at the end of the season, pick off effected leaves and try not to let the plants dry out. Pests and diseases.
How to cook: Slice to the desired shape and steam or fry as an accompanying vegetable, tempura small, young courgettes with their flowers on if very fresh. Courgettes are ideal in stir fry, stew, lasagne, quiche and vegetable crumble or made into gratin with tomatoes. They can be sliced and griddled with olive oil or grated and make into fritters.
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