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I've tried growing courgettes (zucchini) for the first time this year and the plants have been delightfully easy to grow. (For reference, I'm in NE England, UK, btw.) However, many of the fruits rarely get thicker than my index finger before starting to rot from their tip. What am I doing wrong?

Should I be putting straw or something else dry underneath them to stop them touching the soil?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

This could be Blossom End Rot (BER) to which most of the cucurbit family are susceptible. It is caused by a calcium deficiency - see my answer here.

However, given that some of your courgettes are growing normally, and those that are rotting are very small, I think the problem is almost certainly caused by inadequate pollination:

No fruit, or fruit rotting when very small: This is a physiological problem, caused by the growing conditions, not a pest or disease. It is a problem when the weather in early summer is cool and this causes inadequate pollination. Remedy: This is usually a temporary problem, and once the weather starts to improve, so will pollination. You can try to hand-pollinate plants yourself by removing a male flower (male flowers don’t have a swelling at their base) and brushing the central parts against the centre of a female flower (female flowers have a swelling at the base – this is the beginning of the fruit). But this is a bit of a hassle, and normally the plant will correct this problem itself.

Courgettes /RHS Gardening

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Thanks - intermittent watering (mentioned in the linked answer) definitely sounds like a plausible reason for it; I'm a really inattentive gardener. :) I'll also have a go at manual pollination, as the veg plants are in a bed a good distance from the flowers in my garden and I was already a bit concerned that they weren't getting enough attention from bees and the like. –  Mal Ross Jul 22 '11 at 12:10
    
@Mal Ross: You're welcome. There are times when I'm not a very attentive gardener, myself ;) I'm planning to try my hand at asparagus next year - I'm pretty sure I'll have some teething troubles, and I'm relying on this site for advice. Good luck with the courgettes. –  Mancuniensis Jul 22 '11 at 18:39
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