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Marrow

Cucurbita pepo subsp. pepo var. Zucchini

The zucchini (American English) or courgette (British English) is a summer squash which can reach nearly 1 m (100 cm) in length, but is usually harvested when still immature at about 15 to 25 cm. A zucchini is a thin-skinned cultivar of what in Britain and Ireland is referred to as a marrow and in South Africa, a baby marrow. Zucchinis are common in home gardens and supermarkets, and the young fruits are cooked as a vegetable. The flowers are also edible and are sometimes fried.

Planning

Difficulty
Easy
Flowering time
Summer
Fruiting time
Summer, Autumn

Harvesting

The first flowers to open are generally the male flowers and these are the best to cook with. The fruit forms from the female flowers, once the fruit has reached the length and thickness of a finger it can be harvested with a knife as baby marrow, while some varieties grow into the half-meter marrow fruit. The first harvest is about 55 days after sewing the seeds.

Propagation

Seed
Sow seeds in situ in spring after the last frost date. Plant about 2 cm deep, angle the pips to allow water to drain. It takes 7 to 10 days to germinate.

Special features

Attracts useful insects
Bees are needed to pollinate the flowers.
Crop rotation
Heavy feeders, plant after grass family crops and follow with legumes.
Pot plant
Can be grown in large containers.

Geography

Origin
America, Mexico
Natural climate
Temperate

Environment

Light
Full Sun
Soil moisture
Moist
Soil type
Loam, Sand
Soil PH preference
Neutral, Acid
Frost hardiness
Half-Hardy

Uses

Edible
The fruit, flowers, growth tips, leaves and seeds are edible. They can be eaten raw or used in cooking and baking.

Personality

Family
Cucurbitaceae
Flower colour
, Yellow
Scent
Mild

Problems

Susceptible to pumpkin fruit fly, thrips, aphids, squash vine borers and powdery mildew. Provide good air flow through the plants leaves and pick off the beetles when seen. Annual crop rotation and removal of dead plant debris at the end of the growing season can help to minimize insect and disease problems.

Companion plants

Some vegetables inter-planted with your summer squash can repel these pests. Radishes, repel squash vine borers and cucumber beetles, while garlic repels aphids. Planting your squash at the base of maize plants can "disorients" the squash vine borer. Radishes attract flea beetles to their foliage and away from your summer squash. Summer squash benefit from being planted with any type of bean or pea, as these fix nitrogen into the soil, which is taken up by the squash roots. Squash is often planted with beans and maize as part of a traditional "three sisters" garden. Maize provides a support for climbing beans, squash, with its prickly leaves, keeps mammal predators away from developing maize, and beans provide nitrogen to both plants. Maize also has the benefit of producing a lot of pollen, which attracts more bees to pollinate your squash blossoms. Borage, an annual herb, attracts bees for pollination, and its leaves can be mulched around the squash plant to help put calcium back into the soil to prevent the calcium deficiency that causes blossom-end rot. Sink a pot of mint near your squash plants to draw away aphids. Seed orange and yellow nasturtiums around squash and throughout your garden as they draw away aphids, cucumber beetles and whiteflies, among many other pests. As a bonus, the blossoms are edible, with a sharp radish-like taste. Dill is also a good companion to squash as the herb is said to repel squash bugs as well as aphids and whiteflies.

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