I expect we’ve all planted our courgettes so getting the best harvest is what matters now. We’ll want a steady supply of small, appetising fruits and to avoid large, tasteless marrows that reduce future cropping.

After planting in warm, fertile soil, we must water generously. These large plants have huge leaves that transpire copious amounts of water, which need replacing to maintain health and productivity.

Huge leaves also act as umbrellas, keeping the soil beneath very dry and even during a period of heavy rain, very little gets where it’s needed. This also makes watering none too easy, as you need to aim the watering can spout between the leaves. Even then, getting the water to ever-expanding roots isn’t always easy.

My leaky hose system, placed round the courgette after planting, works well. But I’ve found irrigation spikes won’t cut it; they quickly clog up and, even when working, they rarely keep plants moist enough. Instead of this, try a handy bit of recycling. Take a couple of two-litre or larger plastic bottles with the caps on, pierce four or five holes at the top of the bottle and cut off the bottom. Insert the bottle 5-7cm into the soil, 15cm away from the plant, fill with water and replace the cap to keep most insects out. The small holes allow enough air in to let water escape from the bottle.

This also makes adding liquid feed really easy. Courgettes are greedy as well as thirsty.

Monitor the frequency of watering needed according to the size of the plant and weather conditions. The sunnier it is, the more you must water. Do the finger test to check soil moisture: have it damp but not soggy.

Although we want to keep the courgette plants growing healthily, we must keep cutting the fruits when they are about 15cm to ensure a steady supply of tasty small fruits. As we all know, some lurk in unexpected corners and only emerge as marrows, so vigilance is essential to prevent the plants putting all that precious feed and water into growing ever larger marrows.

To ensure a steady supply for as long as the plant is producing, keep picking even when you have more courgettes than you want. Why not cook and freeze any surpluses for thickening winter soups and stews? And if you’re on holiday, beg friends on watering duty to keep picking. Then everyone benefits.

Plant of the week

Chaerophyllum hirsutum ‘Roseum’, hairy chervil, has masses of sugar-pink flowers in late spring and early summer. A tall perennial plant, growing to 1m, the apple-scented foliage is finely divided like most members of the Apiaceae family that includes carrots, dill and the culinary chervil. Like them, it has a long tap root so seed needs to be sown in situ or transplanted at an early stage. It is not suitable for container growing.

The slightly rounded umbels of flowers are easily accessible for a range of insects; it is a great plant for an informal border and prefers damp soil.