Growing cucumbers can be a fun and surprisingly easy thing to do, producing high yields and a plenty of content for your salads.
They germinate quickly, usually in just over a week, and can be trained to grow vertically, making them the ideal candidate for vertical gardening in containers – perfect if your available growing space is limited.
Cucumbers come in many varieties, the main ones being vine or bush types.
The bush types will keep things fairly compact although the fruits will tend to be smaller. The vining types can grow anything up to about eight feet in length and will create an impressive looking plant if trained vertically.
As long as the climbing frame is sturdy enough, the fruits will grow happily hanging in the air, as opposed to lying on the ground.
They can be picked early and eaten or pickled like gherkins, or left to mature. Some types can grow to impressive sizes.
Popular choices for home-grown cucumbers are from heirloom seeds, as the taste is reported to be considerably better than that of the hybrid versions.
Although easy to grow, they will perform best in the warmth of the summer months. They do not enjoy the cold.
They can be started off in early spring, but only in a heated greenhouse, otherwise it’s mid to late spring for an un-heated greenhouse. If you intend to plant them outside, do not plant until early summer.
If you start them off in a propagator, be sure to harden them off by acclimatising them to outdoor conditions over the course of a week.
Once planted outside, they should do well unless the weather is particularly cold.
If you are growing them in a raised garden bed with high quality soil, and are training them upwards, you can get away with planting them fairly close together – as little as eight or so inches as opposed to the usual reccommended 36 inches apart, and still have an abundant flourishing crop.
The cucumbers can become bitter if pollinated by the male flowers, so remove them as they appear, or use all-female flowering varieties. To tell them apart, the female flower sits on top of a bulge that will become a cucumber.
Feeding & Watering
Cucumbers are continuous drinkers. It’s important to keep them moist, but not wet. Too much water and they may stop producing fruit. Do not let them dry out!
Feed every fortnight using a feed that is high in potash.
When harvesting, it’s important to remove the fruit by cutting it with secateurs. The vines are particularly sensitive – if you pull the fruits off and damage the vine, it may not produce more fruit.