To plant courgette you have to wait for summer, because you can only grow courgette in hot environment like summer or near to summer. Courgette, commonly known as Zucchini, is a summer squash, and like other squash, it also belongs to the species Cucurbita Pepo. Courgette is well-known as a vegetable, but botanically, it is defined as a fruit, a type of berry called ‘Pepo’ originated from Mesoamerica.
Courgette is a famous and productive summer staple as it is easy to grow vegetables with edible flowers. It is harvested before its maturity; that is why it is in South Africa, commonly known as baby marrow. The original name of the fruit in Nahuatl is ‘Ayoconeti,’ derived from the word ayocote that means the runner beans.
Courgette is a warm-weather plant and can be well grown in the soil rich in organic matters with a neutral pH. The courgette plant nurtures well under the full Sun but partially sheltered with plenty of room to grow.
Preparing the bed two to three weeks before plantation brightens the chance of healthy development of the plant. The well-drained, loamy soil with the ideal pH between 6.0-7.5 helps plants to reach harvest successfully. Before plantation, add compost mixture and well-rotten manure to the soil for preparing the planting bed. Use fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, contains nitrogen and enough potassium, and phosphate boosts the plant’s healthy development.
Sow the seeds vertically 2.5cm (1 inch) deep in the soil, space rows 90 cm (3 ft) apart. The perfect time to sow the seeds is between March to May that provide higher temperatures for the smooth germination. Courgette is a thirsty plant that requires ample water for healthy growth. Moist and even the ground, and once the seedling emerges, remove the weakest one as it can affect the plant’s growth.
Regular watering is required for courgette for a healthy root system. Courgette nurtures well in warm weather; chilly weather leads to the destruction of the plant. The seedlings demand an adequate amount of water to keep the soil moist. Water well around the plant but avoid watering on the plant in the dry weather. Once the fruit begins to grow and flower blooms, a plenty amount of water is required for the thirsty plant. Refrain overwatering that can lead to the mishap to the fruit. Mulch is suggested to retain the moist of the soil.
Courgette produces plump fruits, so it is best to cage or stake the plant right next to the stem before the growth of the fruit. The right temperature for the plant is around 60°F that helps in the smooth germination. Protect the young plant from the frost and cold weather and cover the seedlings with fleece or cloth. Regular weeding reduces the harmful effects of squash bugs. It also remains helpful in increasing the production of the fruit.
Courgette can easily survive in the soil, which has a neutral pH. The fertilizers with nitrogen, potassium and phosphate are preferable but a high amount of nitrogen results in the reduction of the yields.
The courgette is a fruit that can be picked between one and a half to two months or 45-55 days. The time between sowing and picking courgette is 6-8 weeks, but it varies if marrows, the mature courgette, is planned to harvest. Regular picking around three-four times in a week of the fruits at the peak time assures the long cropping period.
The best way to identify when to pick the baby marrow (courgette) is when the fruit is 8-10 cm long. Marrows (mature courgette) can be harvested when they reach a height of 20 cm or leave it for the whole winter to mature. The immature courgette is tender and flavorful and can feed the whole family.
A sharp knife or pruning shear is usually used to gently pluck it out of the plant to avoid any damage and bruising. A short stub of the stem can be left with the fruit.
Courgette can be stored in a dry place with a temperature of around 0 – 4ºC that can easily preserve vegetables for one week. A favourable condition for maintaining courgette with adequate ventilation help in the preservation of the fruit.
To store the courgette in the refrigerator, make sure not to wash and slice it; only clean the courgette’s skin. The period of storage can be extended up to 2 weeks by refrigerating it in the plastic bag. Unlike courgette, marrow can be preserved for an extended period, and the preferable temperature for the mature plant is between 7°C-10°C.
- Add fertilizer compost mix or well-rotten manure with potassium and phosphate to prepare the seedbed before plantation.
- Avoid excessively dry soil and prefer moist soil but keep it away from waterlogging.
- Avoid watering on the plant. The water must reach the roots and not sit in the neck of the plant.
- The maintenance of temperature, i.e., 60° F or thereabouts, helps in smooth germination.
- Use a soaker hose for a sufficient amount of water.
- The ideal pH of the soil is 6.0-7.5 to avoid the fail attempt of growing fruit.
- Protect the fruit from unexpected late frost that can cause harm to the plant.
- Stake the plant before it falls or tips due to its weight.
Courgette is an easy to grow fruit for any gardener, but it is not a problem-free plant. Courgette is afflicted with the problems that can cause significant harm to the plant even after the ideal condition for the growth. The most common problems can be diseases and pests.
Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that causes white powdery spots on the leaves. To prevent the plant, avoid waterlogging, and get rid of infected leaves.
Septoria leaf spot
A fungal disease called septoria leaf spot causes water-soaked circular spots on the leaves. To prevent the plant, rotate crops, and apply copper dust spray regularly after 7-10 days.
The high rainfall and humidity lead to the fungal disease called anthracnose. The stunted growth and wilted leaves are the major signs of the disease. To avoid the condition of the plant, keep the garden tools clean and get rid of the affected plant. Refrain the stress upon the water.
Squash vine borer
A large, fat caterpillar that bores the stem to feed and left it with holes. To avoid the loss, remove the vine with borer and bury the effected runner.
A brownish bug that sucks the juices of the plant and left it with wilt vine and leaves. Squash bugs attack can be avoided by using insecticidal soap.
Cutworms mostly cause trouble for every other plant, are grey, and are found in soil. It eats the plant that can be prevented by using a collar around the stem of the plant and keeping the garden weed-free.
Courgette is easy to grow plants and enrich with minerals and vitamins. It offers folic acid along with potassium, phosphorus, and calcium. It is famous for skin treatment, too, and is considered as an active source of anti-ageing.