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Courgettes – zucchini to you Americans – have to be JUST the coolest vegetable to grow with kids.
They’re unbelievably easy.
You can get a bumper harvest despite total neglect.
AND you can make chocolate cake out of them.
PLUS they’re a fab way to explore plant science.
Kids can actually pollinate them themselves!
AND AND AND they can even make money out of them.
What’s not to like?
Even the years everything else fails in our garden we grow courgettes successfully.
And little kids can do the growing themselves because they’re so easy to handle.
How To Grow Courgettes
You can sow courgettes seeds directly in the ground.
From late May in the UK.
But we usually start ours off in our mini greenhouse.
Along with the pumpkins and peas.
(These are fab even in a tiny garden. Especially if you’ve no room for seedlings inside).
You can start the courgettes early May.
And if the weather is still too cool late May to plant out, just move them into bigger pots.
As the courgette seedlings grow, do get your kids to patrol the greenhouse for slugs and snails!
Planting Out Courgettes
Now once you plant the courgettes out, they will grow!
AND grow. AND grow.
So if you don’t want a courgette jungle, get your kids to select the 2 or 3 best grown plants.
And plant those out.
But hold onto the other seedlings, just in case the slugs attack those planted out.
Once the plants are 30cm or so they should survive happily.
And your kids can gift their spare plants.
Or get all entrepreneurial and sell them 🙂
Where To Plant Your Courgettes
Courgettes are meant to like a warm not too sunny spot, but ours grow all over quite happily.
If you want to contain them a bit, courgettes will grow in large pots.
Your kids do need to keep their courgettes well watered.
Especially in pots.
And the courgettes may get powdery mildew if they don’t.
But this won’t harm the courgettes and the best gardeners I know, assure us we can ignore it.
One key thing for kids to learn, is to water the plant itself rather than the leaves.
As the plants get big, it’s fun to duck under the leaves to give them a drink.
Little fingers just need to watch out for the slightly prickly stems.
Once the plants start flowering you can feed them fortnightly with tomato feed.
But it’s not the end of the world if you forget. We often do!
The Science of Courgette Flowers
The courgette’s flowers are one of the most fun things about them.
And a brilliant way for kids to learn some plant science.
The plants have male AND female flowers.
You can see the courgette growing underneath a female flower.
And if your kids poke their heads in the flowers, they will see the male flowers have a stamen covered in pollen like this …
… whilst the female flowers have a funny shaped stigma like this …
The pollen from the male courgette flower’s stamen needs to get into the female courgette flower’s stigma, and work it’s way down to fertilise the ovule or egg, out of which the courgette will grow.
Bees are brilliant at pollinating courgettes.
But your kids can HELP out!
They just need to use a little paintbrush to take some pollen from a male flower and gently brush it into the stigma of the female flower.
Or they can just shake some pollen from the male over the stigma.
And before they know it, there will be a baby courgette on the way.
How cool is that?
It will only take 3 or 4 days until it is ready to eat.
As they can grow an inch a day. Wow!
The courgettes will taste best picked early.
BUT we always let some grow and grow and grow to see if we can beat our record.
And it’s fun taking a real whopper into school harvest festival.
Eating Courgettes With Kids
There are obviously loads of ways to cook courgettes.
And if – like me – you’ve got a picky eater they’ll turn their nose up at most of them!
Which is where chocolate courgette cake …
… OR chocolate courgette brownies …
… OR chocolate courgette loaf …
… comes in. They are delicious!
AND a brilliant way to use up the biggest glut of courgettes.
And if your kids are adventurous with food, they could even fry the flowers!
So there you go.
Everything you need to know about growing courgettes with kids.
If you enjoyed this do check out my other gardening with kids posts.
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