Container courgettes

We were so pleased with how our Midnight courgettes grew last year in containers that we wanted to give them a try again this year.

We did quite a late sowing, as there were already some that Dad had grown in the garden during the first part of the season, so we wanted some that would hopefully follow on in succession.

We sowed the seeds like we do most seeds, in a 1/4 seed tray filled with moistened Seed and Modular compost. The seeds are sown on their sides (as hopefully you can see from the photo). This is because the root and first leaf come from either end, so sowing them on their side gives them the easiest route down into the soil (in the case of the root) or up into the air (for the first leaf).

Once sown, each seed was covered with a sprinkling of vermiculite.

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A week or so later, they had germinated and so we pricked them out into multipurpose compost in 3 inch pots! They stayed in these until they were planted out into their final pots.

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And a couple of weeks later they were planted out into 20 litre tubs. As they’ve got established, we’ve now given each courgette a stake (as we do with the ones we have planted out in the garden), and we will train each plant up these so that we don’t use up too much space.

The only thing with the container courgettes is that they need A LOT of water otherwise the compost dries out. Therefore, we always make sure to give them water every morning (and sometimes at night if it’s been a really warm day!) to make sure the compost doesn’t dry out.

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We tried our hand at a bit of exhibiting…

The Essex District Association of the National Vegetable Society hosts a Mini Show each year in early July. This year, our sights were set on the collection of four kinds of vegetable, one of each kind.

We had the following: cherry tomato, kohl rabi, courgette and potato. And this is our final exhibit!

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We were quite pleased with it, although it didn’t win a prize unfortunately. But got a few comments for its originality and colourfulness!

This was the first kohl rabi we harvested. Although we’ve since harvested most of the others! They’re a funny vegetable, quite an earthy taste and the texture of a swede or turnip. I think we will give them another go next year though.

This little guy didn’t quite make it into our collection, but he cleaned up well so we thought we’d give him a mention!

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Courgettes: – Practising what we preach

We revealed our top tip for courgette-success in one of our previous posts, which is staking the plants and regularly tying the stalk to it. This results in the courgette plant taking up less space and also being much easier to harvest!

As you can see (albeit I appreciate I’m only 5′ 2″) the courgette plants can grow really tall by staking them, and it means you get lots of yummy courgettes to eat!

The only thing is that you really have to keep on top of the tying up, because otherwise we find that sometimes the growing points of the plant can be snapped off in the wind! 😦

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Cucumber, courgette and cucamelon update!

Our cucumber, courgette and cucamelon plants are doing brilliantly. Following a slow start, the cucumber plant is coming on strides now and is much stronger. For a start, it could only support one cucumber at a time, but now it’s growing three or four with ease!

These are the last two cucumbers that we harvested from the plant.

 

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The cucamelons are also starting to be ready to harvest. As we hadn’t tried growing these before, we were dying to taste them! It turns out they are exactly as described, a slightly sour cucumber – but still an oddly refreshing taste!

The courgette plants are also still producing well. We have had some extremely hot weather in recent weeks, so we were worried at times that they were coming to the end of their life (as it was so difficult to get enough water into their pots!) However, they have really picked up again now it’s dropped a few degrees.

In fact, we had to tie them up to their stake again for support. They don’t seem to mind this, as long as you encourage them gently towards their stake. It also means they don’t take up too much room, as they go up rather than out!

A general update

The courgettes are growing well in their pots and are starting to produce lots of courgettes. Once ready, carefully cut the courgettes with a knife, ensuring the main stem of the plant is not damaged.

The cucamelons are growing away well – we think they’ll be ready to plant out next week! However, as they’ve been growing in a cold greenhouse so far, we have now put them outside in a slightly protected area to harden them off before we plant them out.

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The beetroot that we planted outside are also doing well and are starting to swell. They’ll still be a little while longer, but it’s always good when you start to see them forming beetroot! Going back to successional sowings, you can see that three different sowings of beetroot have now been planted out across this bed.

Our second sowing of radishes are germinated and growing away nicely. All being well, these should be ready to eat in 2-3 more weeks!

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Keeping up with our runner beans

We took a look at our runner beans today. Each plant is now making its way up the cane, and any that were straying to a neighbouring cane were gently unwound and wound back round their own! As the plants are only about 6 inches apart, the sideshoots that runner beans throw up mean that the beans weren’t going to get a lot of space.

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Therefore, we have decided that we will only look to get runner beans off the main stem. For each plant in turn, we cut the side shoots off the main stem off to give the plants more space.

For smaller sideshoots, these can be nipped off between your thumb and first finger.

It was surprising how much extra foliage the runner beans were carrying!

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And the plants look much happier afterwards.

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We also harvested our first courgette! Although its possible to get courgettes larger than this one, it’s normally best to harvest the first couple of courgettes from any plant a little bit prematurely. This is because the plant is still quite small at this point, and so the courgette takes up a lot of energy to produce. It’s better to remove these once they get to a reasonable size to give the plant a chance to rejuvenate and grow stronger.

Container courgettes

There are an increasing number of great varieties of courgettes these days that are bred specifically to be grown in containers. Some examples are Parador (which is also a lovely yellow variety of courgette), Patio Star and Midnight.

Last weekend, I planted a Patio Star and a Midnight in 30 litre pots. We’ve grown these varieties for a number of years now and they are both fantastic croppers and very tasty to eat – which is key!

With anything we plant in containers, we always put some soil in the bottom to give the pots a bit of weight and keep them anchored if the wind creeps up.

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We then filled each container with multipurpose compost before planting one courgette per pot.

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We then put a stake in each pot for the courgette to grow up, securing this to the fence so that the plants can’t blow over once they get courgettes growing on them. As you can imagine, the plants get quite heavy once fruiting, so its important to make sure they’re tied up the stake at regular intervals to prevent the plant falling over.  The ones we grew up stakes last year grew taller than me, so let’s hope for some of the same from this year’s plants!

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