The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Growing => Vegetables => Topic started by: MischieMoo on July 29, 2014, 10:00:49 pm

Title: Courgettes
Post by: MischieMoo on July 29, 2014, 10:00:49 pm
Hi

I'm growing courgettes in a polytunnel but as soon as the veg are about 3 inches long they start to go brown from the end and finish up soft and rotten.  Does anybody know what the problem is?
Title: Re: Courgettes
Post by: Greenerlife on July 29, 2014, 10:03:14 pm
My first few on a plant usually do that.  I just take them off and wait for the next ones which are fine.  Fingers crossed!
Title: Re: Courgettes
Post by: Mammyshaz on July 29, 2014, 10:06:27 pm
Have you got plenty of air circulation day and night? That can cause rot. I'm sure there is also a rot on courgettes caused by fungus but cannot remember what  :thinking:
I also have the odd one like FW and just pullet off. Plenty of others grow well but mine are kept outside and it is usually more a problem in very warm, damp days.
Title: Re: Courgettes
Post by: Fleecewife on July 29, 2014, 10:31:50 pm
That was Greenerlife Mammyshaz  :roflanim:

The tips going rotten is caused by lack of pollination.  I've got a big problem with that this year as hardly any male flowers are appearing on any of my courgettes and squashes, but there are shedloads of female flowers.  It tends to be more of a problem at the beginning of the season, then sorts itself out later.  Even if you eat the non rotten end of an affected courgette it tends to taste rather bitter
Title: Re: Courgettes
Post by: Mad Goatwoman of Madeley on July 29, 2014, 10:55:29 pm
Goats will eat them though.  ;D
Title: Re: Courgettes
Post by: Dreich Pete on July 29, 2014, 11:56:06 pm
I've had this problem for a week or two, but before it started I had a couple of weeks of great crops. There are still good fruits on the same plants as the ones that are rotting. It's weird that they grow to about 6-7" before going off.

No shortage of insects around so not pollinating seemed unlikely, but I suppose there's a lot of choice for the pollinators and a few flowers are bound to be missed. Maybe it's time to get the tiny paintbrush out.
Title: Re: Courgettes
Post by: Fleecewife on July 30, 2014, 12:09:36 am

If you have only one male flower on a day when you have open female flowers, or you want to be sure pollination has taken place, take off the male flower, pull off its petals and the spikey green bits underneath them, leaving the bits with powdery pollen on exposed.  Go round several female flowers and dip the male flower into them.  You can use male flowers from squashes on courgettes too, and vice versa.
Title: Re: Courgettes
Post by: MischieMoo on July 30, 2014, 08:56:45 pm
Thanks for all your helpful replies.  There are plenty of male and female flowers and more courgettes coming.  I've pulled off the rotten ones so will see if any of these later ones actually grow to a decent enough size to eat. They are well watered and the polytunnel flap door is open so should be air circulating.

If it keeps on happening I'll have to think about getting some goats!
Title: Re: Courgettes
Post by: regen on July 30, 2014, 09:48:32 pm
I always remove the flower once the courgette is a couple of inches long and this usually stops any infection.  From when it starts growing to harvest at 5 to 6 inches generally only takes a couple of days however some remain small and thin and after a few days start to rot from the flower end.  This may be due to poor fertilization.

Regen
Title: Re: Courgettes
Post by: Mammyshaz on July 30, 2014, 11:24:24 pm
 :roflanim: FW I just thought it must be you with such advice that sounds like it's from someone as experienced as yourself.

Greenerlife, your advice was so professional, I apologise for the mix up in names  :roflanim: fame should be restored.

It's interestingly strange how under-pollination causes the courgettes to  start rotting after several inches of growth. This is exactly what happens to the odd one I grow despite growing outdoors. Is there anything that can be done other than manually pollinating them?
Title: Re: Courgettes
Post by: Fleecewife on July 31, 2014, 01:19:05 am

Get lots of bees  :bee: :bee: :bee: :bee: :bee: :bee: :bee: :bee: :bee: :bee: :bee: :bee: :yippee:
Title: Re: Courgettes
Post by: Mammyshaz on July 31, 2014, 07:56:14 am
I wish I could have bees. It's not practical to keep them on our allotments but we do have the next best thing ( IMHO ) We have bumble bees nest in the ground each year and pollinate early spring.
Title: Re: Courgettes
Post by: Fleecewife on July 31, 2014, 09:18:45 am
I wish I could have bees. It's not practical to keep them on our allotments but we do have the next best thing ( IMHO ) We have bumble bees nest in the ground each year and pollinate early spring.

I think Bumble Bees are better.  They are native, which hive honey bees aren't, and they pollinate far more than the honey bees do, start earlier as you say, and can work when it's colder because they wear woolly coats.  Also they hardly ever sting - a definite positive point in my book.   So encourage your Bumbles with wild flowers and by leaving a few areas of scruffy grass and compost stuff for them to nest in.  Protect any nests you find and they will work with you in keeping your courgettes pollinated.  There's a list of good flowers for bees we all worked out together somewhere on TAS.  I'll see if I can link to it.

Let's see if this works http://www.accidentalsmallholder.net/forum/index.php?topic=46293.0 (http://www.accidentalsmallholder.net/forum/index.php?topic=46293.0)

Yes, that whole thread is the one I was looking for.
Title: Re: Courgettes
Post by: Greenerlife on July 31, 2014, 12:33:09 pm
:roflanim: FW I just thought it must be you with such advice that sounds like it's from someone as experienced as yourself.

Greenerlife, your advice was so professional, I apologise for the mix up in names  :roflanim: fame should be restored.

Perhaps me and FW are twins, separated at birth?  :roflanim: 

I have bees, but still have the problem with the courgettes.  Taking flowers off them?  You'd be strung up in Italy if you did that!  Yummy.
Title: Re: Courgettes
Post by: Dreich Pete on July 31, 2014, 02:12:30 pm
I have loads of bees and areas of bee friendly ground but I suspect they have too many distractions elsewhere to bother hanging around the courgettes. Perhaps I need to make the surrounding area slightly less attractive so that they see the courgettes as a pollen rich island.
Title: Re: Courgettes
Post by: Anke on July 31, 2014, 08:48:59 pm
You can always grow a variety that doesn't need pollination.....

I would have thought that this is similar to blossom-end rot in tomatoes?

I have honey bees on my land and they do a sterling job with pollination! Bumblebees are great but have one massive disadvantage - no honey at the end of the summer!!!! :o
Title: Re: Courgettes
Post by: Fleecewife on July 31, 2014, 11:17:26 pm
:roflanim: FW I just thought it must be you with such advice that sounds like it's from someone as experienced as yourself.

Greenerlife, your advice was so professional, I apologise for the mix up in names  :roflanim: fame should be restored.

Perhaps me and FW are twins, separated at birth?  :roflanim: 

I have bees, but still have the problem with the courgettes.  Taking flowers off them?  You'd be strung up in Italy if you did that!  Yummy.


I always believed I had a twin sister and spent ages looking for her when I was a child.  My mother promised me I didn't have one, but maybe I did.......... 8)    :roflanim:
Title: Re: Courgettes
Post by: Mammyshaz on August 01, 2014, 07:42:15 am
Thanks for the bee link FW, very interesting and a great list  :thumbsup:

I was happy to see I have lots of the plants already on the list, my best one being a large  Ribes currant which is just amass with bumblebees on the pink flowers early spring, the whole bush hummmms as you pass.

I don't have comfrey...yet  but I'm on the case  ;D

Maybe my problem is too many other nice bee  friendly flowers for them to bother with the courgettes by summer  :thinking:  There are several species visit our allotment and we have masonry bees in the house wall so I guess I'm doing something right, just maybe not making the courgettes very attractive? Their flowers are always hidden under the large canopy leaves. Would cutting the larges leaves off help perhaps??
Title: Re: Courgettes
Post by: Simon O on August 01, 2014, 08:38:09 am
I agree with all of above about pollination. In addition I have found that although the courgettes do grow prolifically in the polytunnel and you can have earlier fruiting, a lot more will go this way inside than out (perhaps due to less pollinators getting into the tunnel), but also the plants energy seems to go into leaf production rather than fruit production. So overall I think it might be better to pull up the polytunnel courgette plants once the outside ones start to produce. We did not bother with courgettes in the PT this year after the last couple of years when a lot of space was taken up with little benefit
Title: Re: Courgettes
Post by: Fleecewife on August 01, 2014, 11:17:13 am
We have to grow our courgettes in the tunnel because they simply wouldn't grow outdoors here - we've tried it several times.  We have some comfrey inside the tunnel (mulch which grew  ::)) and that flowers really early.  Between that comfrey and the over wintered brassicas which ran to flowers, our polytunnel was buzzing.  We also had strawbs in flower in there, but we rarely saw a bee on them - they were getting drunk on the brassicas and comfrey.  However, they clearly were pollinating the strawbs too because we had a bumper crop of well pollinated fruit.  The ways of bees are mysterious  8)  :bee: :bee: :bee:

Simon, you have your wonderful walled garden, so can grow so much that we can't up here - you're so lucky  :thumbsup:  :garden:
Title: Re: Courgettes
Post by: Simon O on August 01, 2014, 11:45:27 am
Yes I know you are higher and colder and windier there Juliet so that's what you need to do. Our outside courgettes which started a bit weak and late are now right into their productive phase with a great big tub full every few days!! it's so hard to catch them before they get big as it seems to happen overnight. Trying to grow squash in the PT this year as they did not mature outside last year - they are taking over the place with plenty of small fruit coming