Courgettes, Marrows, Pumpkins and Squashes are all part of the same section of the cucumber family, and generally their growing requirements are the same. These are quite satisfying veg to grow as their seed are relatively easy to germinate, and with a little care will produce an abundant crop in most seasons.
They are large plants and they need a bit of T.L.C at the start but it is well worth the effort.
Soil preparation for Courgettes and Marrows.
Choose a sunny sheltered position, as courgettes are not renowned for their suffering.
These veg require a good moisture retentive soil with out being water-logged. Start by digging a planting hole 12 inches deep and the same square. Refill the hole with a 50/50 mix of soil and well rotted manure or compost, slightly overfill the hole to leave a small mound, this will give the plant a little extra drainage around its stem when its first planted.
Each planting station should be 2ft apart for bush varieties and 2½ for trailing.
Sowing Courgette and Marrow seed.
Sow the seed around the end of April, in a cold greenhouse or frame. The seed are quite large and are best sown individually into small pots, about half inch deep. Once the seed germinate the plants grow quit quickly, care is needed not to over water as this can lead to neck rot. I prefer to water from the bottom by placing the pot in a gravel tray of water and allow the plant to soak for a while.
Planting Courgettes and marrows.
Once all risk of frost has gone and they have been hardened off, plant out into the prepared stations remembering to place the young plant on a small mound to aid drainage. Protection may still be needed from cold blustery winds in the form of a cloche or a covering of garden fleece.
Bush varieties, apart from keeping well watered and weed free need very little care once established. Trailing varieties can have their growing tips pinched out at about 2ft, this is to induce fruiting side shoots.
In cold seasons the flowers may need hand pollinating. This is done by removing the male flower ( the one with out an embryo fruit) folding the petals back and placing gently in the female flower.
Harvesting Courgettes and Marrows.
Courgettes need regular harvesting to allow a continual crop, pick when young and at their best.
Marrows,Pumpkins and Squashes can be harvested when they are of a usable size. For winter storage leave the fruit on the plant to mature and pick before the first frosts.
Growing Exhibition Pumpkins and Marrows.
This is never going to beat the world champions, but giant marrow and pumpkins are good fun to grow and look really impressive at the local horticultural show.
To grow extra large fruits the cultivation is the same as those for the table, but the plants are restricted to producing only one or two fruits.