Join me in this weeks podcast where I share how I grow Cucumbers. I also share the latest from the allotment and vegetable garden.
With a 4 day weekend I planned to get a lot of work done. This begun with setting up 2 new coldframes in order to gain more space for my young plants.
We made 2 visits to the allotment, clearing weeds and cutting down a elder tree that just become to big to manage. Mulching has also been a big thing this week.
We have also been busy allowing the chickens out in the garden yet again. The end o f the chickens lockdown is very welcome as its great to see them out in the garden yet again.
What have you been up to in your allotment or garden?
How we grow cucumbers
Something I will be sowing this week is cucumbers. Those crunchy slices of cool tasting fruit which can be used in so many recipes in the kitchen its not a surprise that they are very popular to grow. This week I thought I would share how we grow Cucumbers.
There are a huge amount of different variety's to choose from and when deciding I think its advisable to first work out where you will be growing thee plants as there are variety suitable for greenhouse and for outdoor varieties. Outdoor variety’s or ridge variety's as they are also known as tend to be able to withstand cooler climates a bit better but also have a few spikes on the cucumber themselves. This is easily dealt with because when cucumbers are ripe these spikes easily rub off.
The greenhouse cucumber need a bit more more warmth but tend to have smoother skins.
Added to this choice of variety's we can also have our standard size cucumbers or the smaller gherkins. Personally I like to try and grow both of these particularity as we do like to make our own pickled gherkins.
Good variety’s to choose from are marketmore which can grow in a greenhouse and outside. Mini munch is a good greenhouse variety which grow small cucuumbers ideal for lunch boxes. A variety I am trying this year is called spacesacer which can be grown in pots and use up little space but there are many other varieties to choose from.
Sowing seed is pretty easy, I tend to sow my seeds during aprilI fill my usual seed pots up with compost then slide a seed into the soil on its side about a cm deep and cover over with more compost. This then gets placed in my heated propagator as these seeds need the temperatur to stay above 16c for successful germination and growth. Germination usually takes about a week. Now what I know many other gardeners do is use standard 5cm pots and place 2 seeds per pot. Later on the weekest seedling will get removed. My nethod however does require me needing to prick out and pot on the young plants and these plans can grow pretty quick. Another option is to sow seed where they are to grow but if we are growing these outdoors then we would wait till about late may early June before doing this.
When the plants are young and I cant stress this enough water the plants from the bottom of the pot. What I mean is place the pots in a saucer and pour water into that saucer. Cucumbers are very susceptable to stem rot and if water lands on the stem it could cause the stem to rot.
As always I tend to prick out my seedlings once the true leaves are growing. They then go into individual root trainers but as they grow quick I keep a close eye on the roots. Once I see roots at the bottom of the root trainers or pots its time to pot them up into bigger pots.
When it comes to planting the cucumbers its best to prepare the soil beforehand. Cucumbers like rich soil so add plenty of compost or well rotted manure ahead of planting. WE could also plant cucumbers in pots or growbags full of compost if space is an issue. Give the plants about 60cm of space to get the best from them.
Plant out our plants when we get 2 or 3 leaves, if going in a greenhouse this is pretty easy but if going outside then wait till the risk of frost has passed for me mid may is usually a safe bet. Of course we need to get the plants used to outside first. I spoke about this in last weeks podcast so I wont go into that to much today.
Once planted cucumber will need a support to grow up such as a cane or some netting. Cucumber will cling to the support on there own but I do sometimes find that when young they need a bit of encouragement by simply tying a bit of twine around the plant and support.
Cucumbers need lots of warmth so somewhere warm and sunny is required especially if growing outside.
As the plants grow make sure the soil never dries out they like lots of moisture around the roots. If growing in a greenhouse you may need to increase the humidity by misting the plants with water or pouring water onto the floor of a greenhouse. Really they need very different condotions to tomatoes and it is recommended to grow these plats in different greenhouses but in reality who can do this. It might be possible to section off an area of the greenhouse in order to achieve this but in reality I have found that misting the plants reguallery is enough.
Outside plants its much harder to control the humidty of course but certainly make sure the soil stay moist at all times. Outdoor crops are less fussy over humidity in my expericnce.
When cucumbers start to flower its time to start feeding. Every couple of weeks a good tomato feed to encourage fruits is all that's needed or if you have a wormery then you can use the worm juice. It is just as good.
Some Cucumber variety’s can bear male and female flowers. Female flowers tend to have what looks like small cucumber behind them. The male ones will not have this and if you are growing your cucumbers in a greenhouse you will need to remove the male flowers otherwise this could lead to bitter tasting fruits. However many varitys now are female only and therefore this isnt a problem.
Soon cucumbers will be forming annd its time to harvest once the cucumber reach full soze and are fully green. THe size will depend on the varietys you have chosen so check the seed packets to be sure.
PIck cucmbers regullery the more you pick the more they will produce. I like to cut the cucumber stem with a sharp knofe to pick themas this avoids damaging the plants.
Then all we have to do is enjoy these cucumber's on the dinner table. One thing I love to eat is cucumber sandwiches'. These is just something so cool and refreshing about this but there are plenty of other recipes that use cucumber and if you have a favourite recipe then please let me know.
Episode 391. How we grow cucumbers Recorded and edited on the 5 April 2021 in Littlehampton West Sussex in the UK.
Richard Suggett is the producer editor and podcast of The Veg Grower Podcast and created the episode How we grow Cucumbers after a question from a listener.