Easy method to grow courgettes that don’t ‘do well’ in winter

Carol Klein explains how to sow cucumbers and courgettes

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Winter may be on its way out but there are plenty of seeds that can be sown ready to grow in spring. Courgettes are a great choice for a productive crop, particularly if you’re new to growing your own vegetables. A gardening expert from Newlands Nursery has shared exactly how to sow the seeds this month and secure a harvest in as little as eight weeks.

Courgettes are just one plant that can be grown from seeds directly outdoors in spring, but they can also be started earlier in winter to get ahead of the harvest season.

While most gardeners sow seeds undercover in March, April or May, Newlands Nursery expert Alan Lodge explained that it can be done right now with the correct tools.

In a recent video on their Instagram page, the plant expert explained that there’s “something very special about sowing seeds” in winter, particularly when it comes to vegetables.

He demonstrated how to start growing courgettes using a large seed tray and plenty of multipurpose compost.

Alan started by filling the seed tray with soil until the compartments were level. He said: “Smooth over then tap down the tray to remove any air pockets.

“Place one seed per cell or pot, push the seed in and tuck the compost over the top. All done!”

The gardening expert noted that while the seeds “won’t do well outside at this time of year”, you can keep them in a warm setting like a greenhouse or propagation house.

He explained that anywhere where they are “nice and warm” will help the seeds to germinate in a matter of weeks.

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According to the team at Newlands Nursery, just two or three courgette plants are enough to feed a whole family, they’re so easy to grow and you “could be harvesting after just eight weeks”.

With so many varieties to choose from, there is no reason why you can’t sow a range of different courgettes for your garden.

British gardener and author Sarah Raven recommended choosing a handful of different kinds and to stagger their sowing time.

She said: “One of my favourite things to do is to sow lots of different varieties – just one or two plants of each – rather than one single variety. That way, they look diverse and beautiful in the garden and pretty on the plate.

“There are some really lovely, contrasting varieties: there are golden ones as brilliant as the sun; elegant, ribbed courgettes such as ‘Romanesco’, which has excellent flavour and texture that never turns watery, even when quite large; and also small types, such as the pale ivory ‘Bianca de Trieste’.”

When it comes to sowing them, it is a good idea to split seed packets so that you have vegetables to pick for three to four months at a stretch.

If you are starting them indoors, Sarah Raven warned against transplanting them directly from the seed tray into your garden.

Instead, you should move the seedlings into pots for a little while longer.

Sarah said: “Gradually acclimatise seedlings to outside conditions for two weeks by leaving them outside during the day in a bright, sunny spot and bringing them back in, or covering them with horticultural fleece, in the evening.”

Plant one plant in each planting pocket spaced 90cm (3ftin) apart. Form a shallow crater about 30cm (1ft) in diameter around the plant – this helps when watering, directing the water to the roots.

Before planting the seedlings, prepare the pot or site with well-rotted manure and some general fertiliser. Make a shallow crater to house one plant in each pocket and water the well.

Courgettes grown in pots require more regular watering as they mature, roughly once a week rather than a “regular trickle”.

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