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Why Grow It

Cucumbers are the quintessential salad addition and once they have started cropping, you know it’s summer. They are very prolific plants – a single plant can produce 30 cucumbers.

Nothing makes you feel more like an award-winning GIYer than growing an 45cm cucumber. Are you up for the challenge?

  • Cucumbers like fertile soil, so add compost and a general fertiliser to the soil a week or two before sowing/transplanting for best results.
  • Cucumbers are usually grown in a polytunnel or glasshouse, though some varieties have been bred that can be grown outdoors.
  • You can start sowing in April if growing in a tunnel or glasshouse or May if growing outdoors.
  • They are a frost sensitive plant that needs high temperatures to grow well, so keep them indoors until the ground warms up.
  • Sow seeds 2cm deep in pots. The seeds are large, and the plants grow quickly, so don’t use modules or very small pots.
  • Seedlings will be ready to plant out about a month after sowing, but delay if weather is poor. Plant out 60cm apart.
  • Cucumbers are usually trained up strings or canes – side shoots need removing or the plants can become very difficult to control.
  • Cucumbers like the soil (and atmosphere) moist, so water regularly through the growing season.
  • Modern varieties only produce female flowers – this prevents fertilised fruit growing, which has a very unpleasant taste. If you are growing one of the older varieties this can be a problem.
  • Cucumber varieties vary as to the size of the fruit when harvested – generally the varieties bred for smaller fruit are more prolific. Know what variety you are growing and pick at the recommended size. Fruit will continue to grow after picking, so you should have produce for the whole summer.
  • Cut the fruits off, being careful not to damage the plants
  • Tyria
  • Phoenix
  • Marketmore
  • Slugs can attack young plants so control these by trapping, hand picking or using a less toxic slug pellet such as iron phosphate.
  • Powdery mildew can attack the leaves – this can be partially controlled by keeping the atmosphere moist. If the disease develops then it can be controlled by spraying skimmed milk, diluted at 1 to 10.
  • You can grow cucumbers in grow bags.
  • Cucumbers don’t store or freeze well – pickled in vinegar is the best approach to save them. Cover cucumbers in salt for 24 hours then put in sterilised jars full of warm vinegar. They are ready in about two months.