A very rich bed is essential for a regular supply of marrows between late July and the autumn. Soil which has received a generous dressing of well-rotted farmyard manure or garden compost is ideal. Planting distances depend on the type of plant. A bush variety needs almost one sq m (sq yd) of surface area; a trailer needs a great deal more if allowed to roam at will over the ground. Trailing or vining marrows may also be trained on tall supports. These may be bamboo canes or even the garden fence.
Water is essential and the plants must on no account be permitted to become dry at the roots. Liquid manure feeds should be given weekly when the first marrows begin to swell. To ensure that both water and liquid manure reach the roots, many gardeners sink a clay pot alongside each plant. The water and the liquid feeds are poured into the pots and run directly to the root area. Weeding is necessary until the large leaves shade the surrounding soil and inhibit weed growth.
The plants bear male and female flowers. Bees, flies and other insects transfer ripe male pollen to the female blooms. Where female flowers fall off without setting fruits, natural fertilization is not occurring. In such cases, hand pollination is advisable. Do this before noon. Pick a male flower for each female to be hand pollinated. Strip the petals from the male and twist its core into the centre of the female. The females may be recognized quite easily because they carry an embryo marrow behind them. Bush plants need little attention. Trailers may be guided between other crops or, if they are to be trained to supports, the main shoot must be tied in regularly. Cut the marrows when they are young and tender. They are old if the thumb nail does not pierce the skin easily. Marrows for jam or for storing are allowed to ripen on the plants until September. The storage place should be cool and dry. The marrows are some‑ times hung up in nets for storage purposes. Smaller marrows are now preferred. Up-to-date varieties include `Zucchini E Hybrid’ (bush), ‘Productive’ (bush), ‘Prolific’ (trailer), ‘Cluseed Roller’ (trailer). `Rotherside Orange’ is a prolific variety of excellent flavor. `Cocozelle’ (the Italian vegetable marrow), a bush variety, produces dark green, yellow-striped fruits up to 60cm (2ft) long.
Courgettes, or French courgettes, have become increasingly popular in recent years. In the natural course of events the fruits do not grow very large but, in any case, to obtain the best results, they should be cut when not much bigger than thumb size and cooked unpeeled. Constant cutting will ensure the steady production of fruits throughout the summer. Cultivation is otherwise the same as for the larger marrows. For exhibition purposes, ‘Sutton’s Table Dainty’ is a popular variety.