Courgettes are a great value summer crop that can deliver a high yield when grown in a polytunnel. There are plenty of different courgette varieties to choose from, which can all be used in a wide range of different recipes. Here are some tips for planting courgettes in your polytunnel. These tips will help you to ensure that your courgettes grow well and deliver plenty of delicious and healthy courgettes for use in your kitchen.
Sowing Courgettes From Seed
When choosing courgette seeds, you will first have to decide whether you would like to go for hybrid varieties, which often have a better disease and pest resistance, or heritage varieties from which you will be able to collect seed to plant next year. Choosing heritage varieties can be a good choice for a more sustainable polytunnel garden.
Sow courgette seeds indoors in April or May for the most reliable results. Though they can be sown directly in your polytunnel, this can lead to patchy germination.
In order to increase the chances of successful germination, it is best to sow seeds on their sides, at a depth of around 1cm.
Preparing Your Planting Area
At the same time as sowing courgette seeds in containers, you should also take the time to think about preparing the growing area in your polytunnel to accept the transplants once they have grown to a sufficient size.
Prepare the growing area by top-dressing with a good quality organic compost or well-rotted manure. There is no need to dig this organic matter into the soil, as in a ‘no dig’ system, the organisms of the soil ecosystem will gradually incorporate this material and make nutrients available for the uptake of your plants. Courgettes are ‘hungry’ plants so it is important to make sure that the growing area is rich and fertile.
Courgette plants will need around 1m2 each. This may seem like a large area in terms of the space in your polytunnel, but just a couple of plants can provide plenty of courgettes for the average family.
Vertical Growing Structures for Courgettes
You can reduce the space requirements for courgettes somewhat by providing an encircling structure. This will allow the plants to grow more vertically. It is a good idea, if you plan on incorporating ideas such as these, to place these before transplanting your seedlings, so as not to disturb plant roots or accidentally damage the plants.
Planting Courgettes in Your Polytunnel
One of the most important things when planting courgettes in your polytunnel is to make sure you acclimatise plants grown inside to the conditions in the polytunnel by hardening them off.
Planting courgettes is best none in the morning before the polytunnel warms excessively during the middle of the day. Plant at the same depth that they were in their container, and plant on mounds. This ensures that water does not collect around the base of the plant. Water in well, taking care to water on soil, not on the leaves.
Have you planted courgettes in your polytunnel? Get in touch to let us know how you are getting on. Need more information? Check out our Courgette Grow Guide to find other facts you need to know.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.