Cucumbers are staples of the salad season and provide a green tasting lift to water. Cut up into slices, they often placed on closed eyes to cool and refresh, and to provide garnishes for Pimms.
The best way to grow them is in the greenhouse when in the United Kingdom but there are a number of varieties that can be grown outside. I’ve tried them trailing over the ground on cover fabric or a straw mulch. Alternatively, grow over some support to keep the fruit off the ground by trailing them up a trellis or fence or on a framework of canes.
All varieties are susceptible to frost so sowing is best done in the warmth.
Sow seed on edge to prevent roting 1.5cm (1/2 in.) deep in individual 9cm (31/2 inch) pots under glass at a constant day and night temperature of 21 centigrade. The best sowing time is between April and May.
As soon as the seedlings have formed 3 true leaves, transplant into 15cm (6 inch) pots. When the plants are about 10cm (4 inch) tall, they can be hardened off and planted outdoors once all risk of frost has passed. Planting is best around June. Grow up against netting or allow to trail along the ground. Most fruits will form from August onwards.
Continue to pick the fruits regularly to ensure a continuous crop. Feed and water regularly.
Issues & Problems
Powdery mildew produces white, dusty coatings on the leaves. Often seen in late summer. growing resistant cultivars, good cultivation and after care with plenty of water minimises the problem.
Plants are vulnerable to slugs and snails so look for damage and treat using your preferred method of choice. Red spider mite is always a problem in greenhouses as it loves dry conditions so keeping the humidity high reduces an attack and biological controls are available.
Foot and root rots of Phytophera spp. produce collapsing plants – just remove if this is evident. Cucumber Mosaic Virus causes leaves to turn yellow and become mottled. Remove all affected plants but there are some relaible resistant cultivars about.
Varieties To Grow
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cv. Burpless Tasty.
cv. Bush Champion (ridge) (H2) 1995. High yielding, bush variety producing short, dark green fruits. Nicky’s Nursery T:01843 600 972
cv. Byblos (H1c) 2009 Early and reliable cropping. Smooth-skinned, dark green fruits with good flavour. Suttons 0844 326 2200
cv. Carmen F1. (H1c) 2002 An indoor variety with superb resistance to powdery mildew and scab, ‘Carmen’ is often the choice of top exhibition growers. It’s an outstanding all-female strain and produces an abundance of straight, large dark green fruits which can grow up to 40cm/16in. long. Ideal for slicing. Buy from Seaspringseeds T: 01308 897 898
cv. Cucino (H1c) 2009 prolific producer of smooth, mini fruits. Grown in greenhouse or a sheltered location outdoors. Victoriana Nursery. T: 01233 740 529
cv. Emilie (H1c) 2009. Highly productive, almost entirely female plants with flavoursome, dark green fruits. Johnsons seeds 0333 321 3103
cv. Marketmore 76. (ridge) (H2) 1995 A ridge cucumber of great flavour which is an ideal type for slicing with dark green 20cm or 8 inch long fruits. These are strong plants with good disease resistance. Reliable producer. Marshalls Seeds T: 0844 557 6700
cv. Mini Munch (H1c) 2009 Heavy cropping cucumber producing an abundance of small fruits. Kings Seeds T: 01376 570 000
cv. Patio Snacker F1. A high-yielding variety suitable for growing in large containers with the support of some trellis or canes. The dark green fruits are around 15-20cm (6-8in.) long and have great flavour. Can be grown indoors or our for a summer-long harvest.
cv. Prima Top (H2) 2001 Produces high yields of medium-length, dark green fruits. Remains fairly compact. Suttons T: 0844 326 2200
cv. Socrates F1. (H1c) 2009. Smooth mini-cucumbers are great for smaller households. A vigorous, fast=growing high-yielding all-female strain for the greenhouse or polytunnel. Very good flavour. Buy from Plants of Distinction 01449 721 720
cv. Tiffany (H1c) 2009 Produces a uniform crop of slightly ribbed, dark green fruits. Thompson & Morgan 0844 573 1818