Quick and easy to grow, courgettes and squash are among the most productive vegetables in the garden. Follow our guide for a plentiful supply through summer and autumn.
About courgettes and squash
Courgettes, summer squash and marrows can all be grown in the same way. One plant produces a plentiful supply and courgette flowers can also be eaten as fritters. They require a sunny location and fertile, moist soil. Add plenty of compost or well-rotted manure before planting.
What to do
Sow seeds in pots
- Seed can be sown in pots from March to the end of May. Fill a 7.5cm (3in) pot with compost and firm gently.
- Sow a seed vertically 2.5cm (1in) deep and cover. Label, water and put in a propagator or on a windowsill.
- When roots begin to show through the bottom of the pot, put into a 12.5cm (5in) container. Plant out into growing bags, soil or a large pot in late spring or early summer.
Sow seeds in soil
- Seed can also be sown directly into the soil from late-May to early summer.
- Choose a sunny, sheltered spot and improve the soil by digging in some well-rotted manure or compost.
- Sow two seeds on their side 2.5cm (1in) deep and once the seedlings have germinated, take out the weakest one.
- Plenty of water is essential, especially when the plants are in flower and then when the fruits have started to swell. Mulch to lock in moisture.
- If you dig in plenty of manure before planting, additional feeding is unnecessary on heavy, fertile soil.
- On sandy or light soil, regular drenches with a liquid feed will help boost production.
Harvesting and storage
- To keep plants productive you need to harvest courgettes about three times a week at the height of the season.
- The correct size to pick depends on variety, but as a rule, harvest courgettes when they’re 10cm (4in).
- Use a sharp knife to sever the fruit from the plant. Courgettes are best eaten fresh or can be stored for a few days in the fridge.
- Squashes are more variable in shape and size, so read the seed packet for harvesting and storage information.
- Marrows are often considered to be courgettes grown large, and require the same growing conditions.
- When growing marrows, harvest regularly when they’re 20cm (8in) long, or leave them to mature for winter use.
- Marrows can be stored for a long period of time if kept at a temperature between 7.5C to 10C (45F to 50F).
Five to try
Here are some of the best, with lots of new varieties being introduced each year.
- Courgette ‘Gold Rush’ – a yellow-skinned variety
- Courgette ‘Defender’ – produces heavy crops of green fruit
- Squash ‘Sweet Dumpling’ – white with a green stripe
- Squash ‘Baby Bear’ – flattened orange fruit and very tasty seeds
Squash ‘Turk’s Turban’ – orange with distinctive cream and green stripes