Step 1: use a big enough container. That’s the conclusion I’m coming to anyway, ‘cos so far, we’re doing quite well on the courgette front. OK, so a few of them have succumbed to the dreaded blossom end rot, but the majority are ripening into nice, healthy looking fruit. The buckets I’m growing the Black Beauty and Golden Zucchini in are 14 inches (35 cm) in diameter. Of course, there are other things I’ve done differently this year – like buy young plants from a shop, rather than growing them from seed. So you can’t really call it a scientific study lol. As far as yield goes, the Golden Zucchini is doing much better than the Black Beauty and Golden Ball. I will definitely be doing Golden Zucchini again next year.
|The “grow them in big pots” policy for my courgette plants seems to be enjoying a measure of success, at least it is now that the weather is getting a little warmer. The pots in question are really buckets that started life as containers for industrial/catering quantities of golden syrup. If you spend 15 minutes poking a heated metal skewer through the bottom to create drainage holes, you have a superb container for growing courgettes and runner beans (three bean plants per bucket seems to be about right). Speaking of courgettes, I’ve decided to combat the dreaded blossom end rot by removing the flowers once the courgettes have reached about three inches in length. The one on the right is quite impressive – it’s two Golden Zucchini courgettes that have fused together early on, to give this double yolked beauty! It’ll (almost) be a shame to eat it.|
…are the varieties of the three courgette seedlings I bought at a local charity shop yesterday – I will be planting them in suitable containers this week, with a mulch of home made compost! I told the man who sold them to me of my singular lack of success when growing container courgettes in the past. “What size container did you use?” he asked. I made a gesture to indicate 12 inches or so. “Ooh no, that’s not big enough”, he said. You need something really big for a courgette. Really big it is then. See if that makes a difference.
Well, after three good courgettes, we’re back to the tiny ones with blossom end rot. Maybe that’s the way of things with courgettes – you get a few good ones, then about twice as many rubbish ones, then a few good ones again… I am going to pound up some chalk in their water and see if that makes a difference (the chalk being a source of calcium, which is one of the possible reasons I found for the blossom end rot – see earlier post). Anyway, this post isn’t really about my tiny limp courgettes, it’s about a major success story, pictured below. I bought a 39p packet of mixed leaf lettuce seeds from my local Aldi supermarket back in March, planted them in April and from May onwards, I was harvesting cut and come again salad leaves. I still am in fact, in the middle of July – and they show no sign of slowing down or bolting. (Apart from one of the leaf varieties, which is a sort of spicy mustard type thing. They bolt like anything once the temperature goes up a notch.) I will be planting another lot of mixed leaf lettuce in early August, and am going to have another go at growing mizuna then as well, which was spectacularly unsuccessful the first time I tried it due to the fact that the local snail population treated it as their friendly neighbourhood restaurant.
|I don’t think I’ve quite got the hang of courgettes just yet. Last year I grew a couple of them in the same large container, using shop-bought compost. I did harvest two decent sized fruit, but of the three or four other fruit that I noticed, all of them reached about 3 inches long and then started to shrivel away from the flower end. Rather like the ones in the picture, in fact – these are taken from one of the courgette plants I’m growing this year. However, I am managing a greater number of “viable” courgettes – four or five so far, off the one plant. Trouble is, I’m reluctant to just let them grow in case they too start rotting, so I pick them when they reach 4 inches long.|
After doing some research on various Internet forums etc., there seem to be several reasons why blossom end rot can occur:
1. Inadequate pollination
2. Water getting into the flower and rotting the fruit
3. Too cold
4. Lack of calcium.
Not sure if inadequate pollination is the right answer – surely my courgettes wouldn’t even reach a length of 2-3 inches if that were the case? I can definitely see the logic behind (2), but I’ve tried removing some flowers as an experiment and the courgettes in question STILL succumb. I’m wondering if flower removal is enough – perhaps the problem is caused by a damp atmosphere inside the container, which could certainly be the case because the plant is in a very deep bucket, which I’ve only filled half way. Perhaps the flowering stalks of a courgette plant need to have access to regular wafts of fresh air.
“Too cold” – well, that isn’t a problem any more. We’re right in the middle of a heatwave at the moment. And as for the lack of calcium: that could be an idea. I planted this particular courgette in pure compost with no garden soil at all, so maybe it just needs a bit of lime. Looks like a trip down to the beach to pick up a few bits of chalk then!