Courgette (Cucurbita pepo L.)

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Origin 

Courgette are a variety of aubergine originating in Northern Italy. It was first described in Milan in 1901. It is believed to have been brought to America by Italian immigrants. It is one of the most prolific vegetables in the world.

Consumption

Courgette are a valuable vegetable suitable for dietary use, for young children, as well as for people suffering from diabetes and obesity. The male flowers, young and ripe fruit and seeds are consumed. Courgette are used in a variety of dishes, canned and dried. A fresh, immature fruit 10-15 cm long is considered more valuable than a mature one. Young courgette between 20 and 30 cm are the tastiest. They are eaten with skin and seeds and are the sweetest. Green courgette stay fresh longer than yellow ones.

Courgette
Courgette

Nutritional value 

Courgette contain easily absorbed carbohydrates, fiber, about 30 mg% vitamin C, 0.3-1.5 mg% beta-carotene, vitamins B1, B2, B3 and a rich source of minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, sodium, calcium, magnesium, etc. Courgette are low in nitrates, have a positive alkaline effect on metabolism and help to remove cholesterol from the body. It is low in organic acids and is suitable for gastrointestinal diseases. The pectins in courgette remove heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cobalt and radioactive strontium from the body. This vegetable promotes urinary excretion but does not irritate the kidneys, and is good at removing sodium and chloride from the body. Courgette are not very nutritious and have a low-calorie content of 17 kcal per 100 g.

Varieties 

Angelina H’. Early hybrid. Banana pink’. Late variety, ripens after 95 days. The plant is climbing, with a stem about 1,2 m long. The fruit is yellow, large, with a very good flavor. ‘Black beauty’. A prolific variety, 50 days after fruiting. Dark green, tasty, small size when picked. Cukesha’. An early variety ripens in 48 days. Shrubby plant. Fruit mottled, green, good flavor. ‘Gold rush F,’. Germinates after 50 days. Stunted plant. Fruit yellow. Flesh creamy. ‘Raven H’. A very early hybrid. Abundant yield. Dark green fruit. ‘Supremos H’. Disease-resistant hybrid. Green fruit. ‘Vegetable marrow’. Germinates after 50 days. Shrubby plant. Fruit and fleshlight cream with a very mild flavour. ‘Zebra’. A very early variety, which germinates after 38 days. Shrubby plant. The fruit is light green with dark green stripes. The flesh is white-yellowish, grainy and tasty.

Location

Suitable for a warm, sunny position, sheltered from winds.

Courgette in the garden
Courgette in the garden

Soil and substrates 

Courgette grow well in fertile, light, not waterlogged soil. Medium loams are best, with an optimum soil pH of 6-7. Acidic soils and high water tables are not suitable. The soil must be deeply tilled, friable, well structured, permeable to water and air, and quick draining. The soil must be fertilized heavily with compost or digested cattle manure before sowing or planting. Special seedling substrates prepared in advance are suitable for seedlings. The most suitable starters are onions, cabbage and tomatoes. It is not suitable for cucumbers, pumpkins, or patisons. Zucchini should not be planted in the same place before 3 years.

Nutrient requirements 

The soil must be rich in nutrients.

Sowing and planting 

Sowing outdoors after the risk of frost has passed, at the end of May/beginning of June, after the lilacs have flowered. The soil must be warmed to a temperature of 10-12 °C at a depth of 10 cm. The seeds are sown in nests of 2-3 seeds (3-4 cm apart) and inserted 4-5 cm deep. The row is spaced at 60 cm intervals. A gap of 1,2 m is left between rows. After germination, the seedlings are thinned, leaving the strongest one. For an earlier harvest, courgette are sown in greenhouses at the end of April/beginning of May. Sow in pots or boxes filled with a special seedling substrate. The best temperature for growing seedlings is 15-20 °C during the day and up to 12-15 °C at night, with a relative humidity of 60-70 %. After the danger of frost has passed, seedlings with 3-4 true leaves are moved outside. Care must be taken when transplanting to avoid damaging the roots (which are very sensitive). 1,5-2 g of seed per m2.

Growing Courgette
Growing Courgette

Plant care 

If dry, water.

Pests and diseases 

In rainy summers, zucchini leaves are sometimes attacked by fungal diseases and some varieties suffer from grey rot. Pests include aphids, leafhoppers, midges and thrips. Crop protection can be achieved through crop rotation and spacing.

Yield

The fruit is harvested 2 times a week. Young courgette 10-20 cm long are suitable for salads and canning and 20-30 cm long for frying, stews and porridge. The ripe fruit is harvested in July-September with a 2 cm long stalk and stored on shelves at 5-7 °C.

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