Freshly harvested home grown cucumbers are fabulous. Really juicy and oh, so tasty! Cucumbers can be grown either in a greenhouse or outdoors. Some people find greenhouse cucumbers difficult to grow and this is mainly because a constant high temperature is required throughout the growing season. Outdoor cucumbers on the other hand are much tougher and I believe easier to grow.
Greenhouse varieties can either be grown in grow bags – 2 plants per bag – or in 10inch pots – 1 plant per pot – filled with John Innes No.3 compost.
Outdoor varieties need a good fertile, moisture retentive soil. Prepare a planting hole and fill this with a good shovel of well rotted organic matter covered with soil.
Sowing And Planting
Cucumber seeds need warmth to germinate, approximately 75F. The seeds should be sown on their edge, one seed per 4 inch pot, at a depth of half an inch.
For greenhouse varieties seeds should be sown in late February, early March with the plants ready to transplant into grow bags in early April.
For outdoor varieties seeds should be sown in April with the plants ready to transplant into their permanent positions in late May after the danger of frost has passed. Choose a sunny position with some protection from the wind.
Looking After The Plants
Keep the plants well watered but make sure that the compost is never waterlogged. The main stem should be trained up a cane stick. In the greenhouse the growing tip can be removed when the plants reach the roof. Outdoors the plants can be left to scramble across the ground but it is better to train the plants up a cane stick as this keeps the fruits off the ground.
Old varieties of cucumber produce both male and female flowers. When growing in a greenhouse it is important to remove the male flowers as they cause the fruits to be bitter if pollinated. Modern varieties are all female so pollination is not a problem although they can sometimes produce the occasional male flower. The female flower will have a small cucumber growing behind the flower whereas the male just has a stalk.
It is important when growing outdoor cucumbers never to remove any flowers.
You can begin harvesting the cucumbers once they reach a reasonable size. Always use a sharp knife and keep harvesting to encourage more cucumbers to grow. If left to grow too large the centres of the cucumbers can split. It is possible to cut a cucumber in half whilst it is still on the plant and the cut will heal over so that the other half can be harvested later.