The art of growing courgettes

Growing courgettes successfully is both the easiest and hardest thing to get right.

Sow in the warmer temperatures of May, the courgette seeds germinate quickly and the plants grow strong and fast with very little problems. The courgettes start appearing as early as June. That’s the easy bit.

The hardest part of growing courgettes successfully is hitting the sweet spot of production for the kitchen. Too little is not enough to do anything worthwhile and too many are overbearing and quick to become so too. How then do we find the sweet spot?

It’s not enough to simply suggest the number of plants to people ratio. It’s a guide which, although a fair starting point, I’ve realised there is a need to consider the variety of courgette when putting the equation together. Not all courgettes are created equally.

Romanesco Courgette
Romanesco courgette

After a few years hiatus growing courgettes, I began growing the summer cucurbit again this year. One thing you hear when you grow your own courgettes for the first time is how prolific they are. And this is true. However, there are differences in the production of each variety.

Black beauty is ridiculously productive. It’s also a common variety to grow. It’s certainly the variety I grew often when I first started. I think basing the decision of how many plants to grow on the experience of growing this variety alone is a bit of a weakness.

This year I have two varieties growing on the allotment. The reason for the choice of varieties comes down to my decision at the start of the year to try and use up the huge number of seed packets I have rammed in my seed tin. Seeds are a resource and I wanted to ensure the numerous packets of veg seeds I had already accumulated were used where possible. That’s a whole other blog post.

Anyway, the two I’m growing?

Romanesco is an heirloom variety from Rome. It’s incredibly attractive in a mottled green skin with creamy, lighter green raised ribs. The texture is fantastic, remaining firm even if left to grow to a large size. It’s already on my grow again list. However, it produces fruit at a fairly slow rate – by which I mean – I’m harvesting one or two decent size fruit from one plant every few days – not to be sniffed at of course!

Atena Polka is a gorgeous yellow variety and I think makes such a fantastic addition to a courgette dish when mingled with the green varieties. However, this plant is prolific in comparison to Romanesco. It produces double the number of courgettes within the same time and I find I need to harvest them when they are much smaller just to keep up with the production.

Since we moved to a predominately plant-based diet two years ago, courgettes have become one of our favourite vegetables to use in the kitchen. Their texture and mild flavour make them incredibly versatile. As well as packing out a vegetable lasagne, they can be used simply, fried with garlic and mingled among spaghetti with a squirt of lemon juice and a generous grating of Parmesan.

Any favourite courgette varieties? Let me know in the comments below.


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4 thoughts on “The art of growing courgettes

  1. Interesting read – I’ve been moaning about my panic bought courgettes. I forgot to get them, saw them in the supermarket (Johnsons’ Courgette All Green Bush) and thinking I didn’t want to be inundated, only grew about 6 plants. However, they are turning out to be quite unproductive. The fruits keep dropping off before they mature – 3 are outside and 3 outside but in pots. Lack of water maybe? We are in the Sahara South East. Will make sure I get better variety next year.

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  2. The common green zucchini, which is not as dark as ‘Black Beauty’, is what we primarily grow here because it is the most reliable and most productive. It is not my favorite, but it works. I grow a few yellow crookneck squash because I prefer them; but they are not as productive. Most of what grows gets given away, so over production is not a problem. Otherwise, I would probably grow only one pair of zucchini, with one pair of yellow crookneck. That would be more than enough.

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  3. I’m having a terrible time with my courgettes – they are just not fully forming, going yellow and dropping off. I’m growing Johnsons All Green Bush (grabbed at supermarket cause I forgot to buy them) and I have 6 plants and have picked one courgette thus far 😦 If it’s a watering issue, they are getting a drenching now, so I’ll see what happens. Will look out for your recommendations next year.

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  4. Very nice article. I like courgettes because they are very easy to grow and I eat them almost every day. It makes me to save my money and eat bio food. Each year I try to grow different varieties to taste a new flavor but still my favorite remains Anissa. I grow it from seeds which I buy on https://gardenseedsmarket.com/zucchini-anissa-f1-courgette.html . Seeds do not germinate very fast but the taste compensate it. I have to try Atena Polka – I didn’t eat it but it sounds amazing. Thanks for this post!

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