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Courgettes (Zucchini) and Marrows

Grow Your Own Courgettes and Marrows

The zucchini or courgette is a small summer squash. Along with some other squashes, it belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo.

Zucchini is the more common name in North America, Australia, Germany and Italy, while courgette is more commonly used in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and South Africa. Zucchini can be yellow, green or light green, and generally have a similar shape to a ridged cucumber.

Grow Your Own Courgettes (Zucchini) and MarrowsThe female flower is a golden blossom on the end of each emergent courgette. The male flower grows directly on the stem of the courgette (zucchini) plant in the leaf axils (where leaf petiole meets stem), on a long stalk, and is slightly smaller than the female. Both flowers are edible, and are often used to dress a meal or garnish the cooked fruit.

Firm and fresh blossoms that are only slightly open are cooked to be eaten, with pistils removed from female flowers, and stamens removed from male flowers. The stem on the flowers can be retained as a way of giving the cook something to hold onto during cooking, rather than injuring the delicate petals, or they can be removed prior to cooking, or prior to serving. There are a variety of recipes in which the flowers may be deep fried as fritters or tempura (after dipping in a light tempura batter), stuffed, sautéed, baked, or used in soups.

Courgettes and marrows taste best when you know that you've grown them yourself. Not only is it fun, but it's quick, easy and cheap too.

When to plant courgette and marrow seeds: April (indoors) or late May (outdoors)

When to harvest courgettes and marrows: June - September

Where to plant courgettes and marrows: Sunny soil beds, large pots or grow bags (check the back of the packets)

Tools for the job: 1. Courgette or Marrows Seeds. - 2. Gardening gloves - 3. Plant Pots. - 4. Watering can. -5. Trowel & Fork. - 6. Potting Compost or Grow bag.

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Growing Your Own Courgettes and Marrows

What to do:

Growing Your Own Courgettes and Marrows

1. Firstly improve the soil by adding around 1/3 compost to 2/3 soil. This can be done using a garden fork, turning the two together.

2. Plant two seeds on the sides, about 2.5cm deep and around 50cm apart, depending on varieties. This can be done wherever you like, just make sure you lightly cover them with soil and water (fig.1).

3. Once the seedlings have started to grow, take out the smallest and weakest looking one of each pair by hand. This promotes the growth of the stronger seedling (fig.2).

4. Plenty of water is essential for your plants, especially when they're in flower or when the fruits have started to grow. So, water them regularly.

5. The correct size to pick depends on the variety of courgette, but generally they should be about 10cm long. Use a sharp knife to cut the fruit from the plant (fig.3).

6. To keep plants productive, you need to pick your courgettes about three times a week.

7. For marrows, wait until they are about 20cm long before cutting.

Top tip: cover your plants with bubble wrap to protect them from the cold.

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