In my remarks on manuring I expressed the opinion that the manure bed is not an unmixed blessing for Vegetable Marrows, especially in a dry season. I have seen a cartload of manure used for a Marrow bed, and for a limited time the plants rode rampant, but after some weeks of drought the manure, unable to hold sufficient moisture, failed to keep the plants going, and under the stress of cropping they began to wither.
Of the two, I would rather have a manure pit than a manure heap for Marrows, but neither is really necessary. In well-tilled, fertile soil the plants will thrive and crop amazingly if only put out on the level, just as you might plant a Cabbage.
One good seed in the centre of a 4-inch pot, inserted in March, and put on a hotbed, on a greenhouse shelf, or in a frame, will give a strong plant, and this may be transferred to a 5- or 6-inch pot. By the end of May it should be 8 to 12 inches high, and very sturdy. It should then be turned out without disturbing the ball, planted firmly, and protected with an old basket or some other simple shelter until it has got a good hold of the soil. Some people sow out of doors in May.
Fig. 89. A Vegetable Marrow On A Raised Framework.
A, section of framework; B, framework erected and covered.
Stopping is sometimes practised, but it is quite unnecessary. A sturdy plant will fling out growths in all directions without any help from the grower directly it has become established. Even in dry seasons I leave my plants to look after their own fertilisation and their own feeding-two functions which they never fail to perform to their own and my complete satisfaction. I am convinced that we should hear fewer complaints, by many, of fruit falling after setting, instead of swelling up, if the plants were grown in the natural soil of the garden.
It is a mistake to let the fruits get large, except towards the end of the season when one or two giants are coveted by the housewife for preserving. They should be cut young. For exhibition, an even pair, with a tender skin which will admit the thumb nail readily, stand the best chance.
There is no more useful Marrow than the Long White, but Custard, Moore's Cream, sund Pen-y-Byd are very fine in flavour.