Climbing courgettes

I was chatting with my brother at the weekend about our respective gardens and he mentioned that he had already harvested 23 courgettes from his plant. Sibling rivalry never quite dies, so when we’d said goodbye I popped up the garden to count the stumps on my own climbing courgette – a mere 18 so far! Far more than I can actually use, as it happens, but I was still a bit miffed as the variety (Black Forest) was my discovery and I gave him the seed… Brothers and sisters eh?!

Family competitiveness aside I’d recommend the variety to anyone who likes courgettes, but is a bit short of space. The seeds are expensive, but the plants are so prolific one or two plants will provide plenty of courgettes for a small family. Last year I was picking from two plants until well into October and gave away more than I used myself. This year I just have the one plant, and I’m still giving away plenty. There are only so many courgettes a girl can eat.

Black Forest are sold as patio vegetables by Thompson and Morgan, but in my experience they do much better grown in the garden. If you want to grow then in a container make it a big one and expect a smaller crop. Last year I put a plant in a 10inch pot and it really didn’t like it there. They don’t actually climb by themselves, so you have to tie them to the supports. I find that stretchy fabric works best – bits of old tights or strips of t-shirt material. Maybe not very elegant, but it does the job. I chop the lower leaves off when they get scraggy or mildewed or just in the way of the beans, it doesn’t seem to affect cropping at all.

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