Cucumbers growing up a climbing frame made from bamboo canes
- Cucumbers are straight forward to grow and grow up they will as they are a climbing vine.
- They are a member of the cucurbitaceae family which includes melons and squashes and so like a warm well drained soil.
- Cucumbers can be eaten fresh or they can be pickled.
Cucumbers that are eaten fresh are known as Slicing varieties and cucumbers that are pickled are known as pickling varieties.
- Cucumbers contain nutrients that are especially beneficial to our skin, hair and nails.
How to grow Cucumber - Crop Rotation
- Cucumber is a member of the Melon Family, and it is recommended that it should not be grown in the same soil as other family members for at least three years.
- Ideally, if they are following a crop from the Pea and Bean Family, then they should not need further nitrogen at the time of planting.
How to grow Cucumber - Soil Preparation
- Dig a fair amount of organic compost into the soil.
- The soil should be turned over down to about a spades depth.
- Growing cucumbers are best in a pH range of 6.0-7.0 and do enjoy moderate amounts of nitrogen and high amounts of phosphorus and potassium.
- They grow better in fertile clay soils with a lot of humus.
- Do not to plant your cucumbers in a constantly wet area as they dislike the roots being constantly soaked in extreme amounts of water.
- At this point you can decide which method to use to grow your cucumbers: grow up a climbing frame or leave to sprawl on the ground.
Grow up a climbing frame
- Grow up a climbing frame, trellis, netting or wigwam of canes.
- This allows a large number of plants to grow in a small area.
- Cucumbers grown on some type of trellis produce two-three times more cucumbers.
- Cucumbers grown on a trellis have the tendancy to be healthier and more uniform in size and also in shape.
- They are also cleaner at picking time and the air circulation certainly assists in the prevention of many diseases associated with growing cucumbers.
- The trellising actually makes room for planting other crops that require shade such as lettuce under the trellis.
Grow direct in the soil
- Grow direct in the soil or make a small mound and grow on top of that, allowing the plants to sprawl along the ground in your garden.
- This is a sound technique, because secondary roots will develop along the vine at the junction between the vine and the leaf.
- Secondary roots are a source of additional nutrients for your plant and fruits' growth.
- At picking time the cucumbers will have the dirt of the garden attached.
Other growing techniques
- In addition, thought can be given to two other techniques that have been proven to be successful:
- Grow the cucumber plants plants through a plastic or non-woven membrane mulch.
- Water the cucumbers by drip irrigation, using a porous pipe on a low-pressure watering system.
How to grow Cucumber - Sowing Seed
- You can start your plants off indoors by sowing in biodegradable seedling pots that will ensure the seedlings roots are not damaged when you plant out the plants.
- Sow the seeds in a good quality general purpose peat compost.
- Water daily, and do not allow the seedlings to dry out, but do not drown them, just keep them damp.
- Do not plant out before the last frost.
How to grow Cucumber - Planting Out
- Leave a gap of around 40cm between seedlings.
- If growing direct from seed you can group sow 3 seeds in each hole to increase chances of germination success. Seeds should be planted 2.5cm deep.
- If you are planting more than one row then rows should be spaced at around 90cm.
How to grow Cucumber - Care & Cultivation
Cucuumber growing as a sprawling vine on the ground
- After the plants germinate, add a thick layer of mulch to conserve moisture. Be careful to keep the mulch away from the stems of the plants so they do not rot.
- Feed the young cucumber plants every two weeks with liquid fertilizer.
- It’s is important to maintain sufficient moisture throughout the growing period. The cucumber fruit itself has a very high water content.
- Weed regularly but be careful not to go below a couple of cm's with your hoe as you may damage the root system which will slow down plant growth.
- The plant has both male and female flowers and the female flowers give rise to the cucumbers.
- With some old varieties, you can aid pollination and increase the fruit count by using a cotton bud to transfer pollen from the male flowers onto the centre of the female flowers.
- The female flowers distinguished from the male flowers as the females have a tiny cucumber at their base.
How to grow Cucumber - Harvesting
- You can harvest the cucumbers when they are a suitable size, this is normally around 50-60 days after planting.
- The skin should be dark green in colour, do now wait until the cucumbers have turned yellow as this indicates that they are over ripe and their quality of flavour will decline.
- Twist the cucumbers off the plant or cut the stalk just above the cucumber tip.