Not so long ago I planted courgette Atena and Defender into pots, one variety produces a yellow courgette and the other variety produces a standard green courgette.
A couple of the seedlings were victim to slug attack, so I didn’t end up with as many as I’d hoped.
They’ve germinated beautifully and now they’re ready to plant out. The plants are around 4-5 inches tall and have developed a long second set of leaves. Courgettes are fantastic plants and are great in the summer as the basis to a vegetable lasagna or if any kind of tomato ragu.
If you’re growing courgettes or anything of the cucurbit family (squash, marrows, pumpkins…etc) it’s best to grow an even number of them, this is because the plants will produce either male or female flowers based on the conditions they’re in.
Lower temperatures and a lack of sunshine will produce male flowers, where as higher temperatures and poor ventilation will produce female flowers – as with everything to do with relationships, if you’re looking for an even outcome, everything in moderation!
Growing courgettes, squashes and marrows is great fun and very easy. I’ve seen people grow cucurbit plants in all kinds of locations, from hanging baskets to the top of compost bins. Like most plants they enjoy plenty of water, nutrient soil and fairly warm conditions. The other great thing about courgettes, is that the more you pick the produce the more you will get back in return.
Slugs and snails are a real issue if you’re growing courgettes. Slugs don’t leave much in their path as it is and the site of fresh courgette plants be like what honey is to bears – irresistible.
Courgettes also attract black fly and white fly so growing marigolds in among your plants will act as a good deterrent to any opportunists who may want to eat up your plants.
I’ve planted my courgettes in with my runner beans so that hopefully they’ll act as ground cover and keep the majority of weeds at bay.
Courgettes are a great fruit to grow and so easy to. They’ve been grown for thousands of years and during that time they’ve gone in and out of fashion. Courgettes get a bad rep for being watery and tasteless but these recipes by Nigel Slater or Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall show that courgettes are a versatile ingredient to have in the kitchen as they can be mashed, sliced or grilled, with other ingredients that you wouldn’t usually use.
Along with America (apparently), the courgette was one of Columbus’s discoveries from Central and South America and is a member of the cucumber and melon family. The variety was shipped to Italy where it was developed and renamed zucchino, meaning a small squash. This name changed again in the US to zucchini – with the name courgette being adopted in France, which translates simply to vegetable.
I’ve decided to plant two varieties of courgette this year!
Courgettes – Atena F1 (yellow)
Unfortunately, yellow courgettes aren’t as available in the supermarkets as the green ones because their skin is thinner and they mark easily. Yellow courgettes brighten any dish when they’re used with other vegetables.
Atena F1 is a plant that requires little to no maintenance. They’re the easiest thing to grow as you just plant in a pot of multi-purpose compost with the eye of the seed facing upward.
Courgette Atena F1 fruits can be harvested when they are 15-20cm long as the skin is still thin and the flesh is still soft inside. This variety is a prolific one and offers a good yield over a long period of time.
Courgettes – Defender (yellow)
Defender is a British bred variety which was invented by Tozer Seeds. It has a good resistance to Cucumber Mosaic Virus, which is a condition that often decimates marrow plants. Like Atena, this variety produces heavy crops of mid-green, speckled courgettes – having grown this variety before, I know that the more you pick these courgettes the more you get in return. This variety also carries the RHS Award of Garden Merit mark meaning it’s a great beginner variety and ideal for small spaces.
Generally, courgettes are low in calories and contains nutrients including vitamin A and potassium.