How To Grow Zucchini
A professional garden designer explains how best to germinate zucchini seeds, plant the seedlings, and eliminate the various pests drawn to the plants.
Courgettes are really easy to grow, and the great thing about them is one plant will provide you for enough courgettes easily to feed two people. They like to have full sun and a fertile, well drained but moist soil. So dig in lots of compost before you plant them.
A really good trick when planting courgettes is to dig out a little pocket, a little planting pocket, about 45 centimeters square and deep, fill it with some compost, top it off with some soil in a little mound, and then plant the plants into the mound so that they can get their roots right down into the compost. You can sow courgette seeds directly into the ground, but I tend to grow mine in pots. I sow them one inch deep into three inch pots, around about March time, and then I put them into a propagator.
Give them a good water first, and put them into a heated propagator on a windowsill until they pop their heads up. Then I transfer them into a cool greenhouse and I gradually harden them out before planting them out into the garden. I should probably explain what I mean by hardening off.
That is gradually acclimatizing the young plants to being outside in the cooler weather. So for example, I would take them outside of the greenhouse in the day, and then place them back in the greenhouse at night, until the weather warms up, so that they just gradually get used to a slightly cooler temperature and aren't shocked when you plant them outside. Otherwise, they'll just simply die.
During the growing season, they need plenty of water, and they'll also benefit while they're growing, and while the fruits are developing, with a liquid feed. Just a little bit of tomato fertilizer will do fine. Slugs really love courgette plants, so put down some beer traps.
I find these work really, really well. If they're not working for you, then you can use all sorts of different slug deterrents, just have a look in the garden center. Some people use slug pellets.
I try to avoid them, because if the birds eat the slugs who've taken the pellets, then they die. So I find beer traps work very well. Courgettes can suffer from cucumber mosaic virus, so try growing a variety which is specifically bred to be resistant to this.
Unfortunately, if the plants get heavily infected, you can only dig them up and throw them away. Aphids also like feeding on young courgette plants. Try growing some marigolds near to the plants.
They'll attract hoverflies, which will eat the aphids. A professional garden designer explains how best to germinate zucchini seeds, plant the seedlings, and eliminate the various pests drawn to the plants.