How to extend the harvest of baby marrows
By March baby marrows are usually at the end of their productive lives, with most leaves covered in powdery mildew. Pulling them out is almost an act of kindness. Did you know that pruning can extend the baby marrow harvest? This simply involves thinning out the leaves to improve air circulation, which reduces the risk of powdery mildew and also encourages pollination.
The reason why fruit softens and falls off may not be a shortage of calcium but simply because the bees couldn’t find the flowers that are obscured by all the leaves. Pruning plants encourages them to push out new growth.
Here’s how to extend your baby marrow harvest:
- Start by snapping or twisting off all the lower leaves, especially those lying on the soil. That will immediately clear space around the base of the plant, which makes it easier to water.
- Remove criss-crossing stems and leaves and those that overlap, especially in a bed with more than one baby marrow plant.
- Leaves that obscure the flowers can also go. In a raised bed, it is okay to let the lower leaves hang over the edge of the bed.
- It should be okay to remove up to 30% of leaves, provided there are healthy leaves remaining.
- Once the plant is opened up to sunlight and air, new growth can be expected. If it is too late to salvage this year’s plants, make a note to start the pruning process earlier in the next season.