So, summer. Well, let's skip over that. We have all been there and we all know what we are thinking at this moment if we live in the UK. Summer. Yes. Let's crack on. So, how do you keep your courgettes (zucchini for our American friends) happy? Well, you could take them out on a date, a nice glass of wine, some good food and music (sorry, that should be how you treat your other half and not a plant, unless you're married to a plant, and if you are, you go for it, you unique individual). Plants need several things to make them happy, they need shelter, they need sun and they need water - that's the basics but you can guarantee that you or the season will get one of those wrong.
We underestimate vastly how much water our crops need. If you ever spend time on a commercial farm - and we have - you will be utterly amazed and probably appalled at the water bill they have to pay. We once spent time on a farm were they were sinking a bore hole at a cost of £20,000+ (roughly $26,000 or €23,000) within two years it would save them money. The farm was only two and a half acres. That's around £4,000 ($5,100 or €4,600) a year to water just one acre. Now, they were a commercial farm, producing crop after crop in quick succession, you may not be doing the same thing. You may get one crop and then let the ground go fallow but it still gives you an idea that some crops require more water than others, such as, lettuce, courgettes, onions and marrows. If you think about it most vegetables are water, you are too, and they are totally reliant on you. And you, and us, naturally forget them. So, here are some easy tips to get you to understand how to deal with courgettes.
Courgettes in open ground vs courgettes in growbags. It's natural to think that courgettes in the ground will make their own way in the garden and that courgettes in a growbag will be okay for at least six weeks because we all know that growbags and some compost has enough nutrients in it to last a plant six weeks. No! Stop that! Never trust the label. You don't do that with processed food, just because those sausages say 'meaty' on them doesn't mean it's pork. We all know this from the horse meat scandal. Never trust a label. Trust your instincts. Many growbag suppliers are fantastic, so are many compost producers but when they get to you, you have NO IDEA HOW LONG THEY HAVE BEEN IN THE SUPERMARKET, GARDEN CENTRE or CORNERSHOP. And those points of distribution have absolutely no obligation to tell you when they got them. Now, again, most garden centres do not have the space to store compost year in year out, so the compost you have received is new(ish), because most of the points of distribution store compost outdoors and therein lies the next problem. That compost has been subject to wet, wind, sun and frost, those nutrients have either leached or boiled away. So, where you can, make your own compost or make your own feed. We use comfrey feed, and you can see how to make a plethora of feeds here. You can see to some extent the effect of comfrey feed in the film at the bottom of this post. You want to nurture your plants undercover and outside, and feed them each Friday (#feedingfriday), so if there is no sun, or no long bouts of sun, they will get something they need and that will make them very happy. Even in growbags we will feed our plants as soon as they start to flower, and we will keep feeding them throughout the growing season. This is how we treat our open ground courgettes too but there is a difference here, we use our own compost to enrich the hole they are going in and then plant them in a bowl, you can see why in the film here. You can't always control the weather but you can manage the soil and realise that they need more water than you think.