How To Grow Cucumbers
Cucumbers are easy to grow at home and make a delicious addition to salads and sandwiches. They are a delicious ready-to-eat healthy source of nutrition and nothing beats knowing your garden grown cucumbers are free from synthetic fertilisers and pesticides.
Slicing or Pickling?
As the names suggest, we either grow cucumbers with the intent to pickle them or use them fresh.
Pickling cucumbers are shorter with thin skin that is dark green. They are drier and will soak up much more brine that can keep them fresh for years!
Slicing cucumbers are longer with brighter green, thicker skin. These do not stay fresh for much longer than two weeks in the fridge.
When to Grow?
Cucumbers require warm weather and seeds won't germinate if the soil is below 20ºc.
Get them started in a greenhouse from mid-February. Sow them straight outside from late April if the weather is warm enough right through to the end of July.
Where to Grow?
Most cucumber plants are vine growing types. Plants can naturally sprawl on the ground or they can be trained to grow up a trellis, fence or a cage to save space.
Letting them sprawl on the ground however takes up valuable space that can otherwise be used for other veggies. The cucumbers won't always develop their full colour either as the underside of the fruit is always in the shade.
If space is at a premium then consider a bush or compact variety that can be grown in containers or pots. The soil needs to be at least 12"/30cm deep.
Sow seeds on their side 1-2cm deep in modules if you are growing them in the greenhouse. They can be sown direct in the growing site if you are growing them outdoors. It is better to water the soil first so the seeds are not washed out afterwards.
Don't let young plants get too cold or they can wither. If temperatures are lower than 10ºc in an exposed area then consider covering them with a cloche or fleece.
With a 90% water content, you can understand that cucumbers are thirsty so they will need lots of water during growth.
Once the plant flowers and starts to set fruit you can fertilise for a bigger crop
Generally, cucumbers take 60-70 days to mature and start bearing fruit. The length of your cucumbers will depend on the variety.
Harvesting cucumbers regularly encourages plants to produce more cucumbers and therefore gives you a better yield. The best cucumbers to harvest are the ones that are crisp, hard, and evenly green.
If you don't harvest the cucumbers from your plant as you want them to grow larger you’ll notice a decrease in yield. This is because the plant thinks it has done its job and no longer needs to produce more fruit.
Slicing cucumbers will stay perfectly fresh in the fridge for about two weeks before they start to soften. Once harvested they need to be washed and kept dry. The warmest part of the fridge is the best place to store them, this is usually at the front near the door.
You don’t have to pickle picklers. Pickling cucumbers are fine for fresh eating but they wont store for very long. Once pickled they can last from months to years.
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