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Growing Cucumbers
The cucumber has been around for some time, originating from India it has  been used in cooking for around three thousand years.

Cucumbers like many other salad crops are at their best when they are fresh. There is a noticeable difference in taste between my own and the ones supplied by the supermarket.

 

Cucumbers

Cucumus sativas (fam. Curcubitacae)

Half Hardy Annual - HHA

Sowing to Harvesting time: 10-14 weeks.

Size: Plants to 2.4m tall in the greenhouse or 1.2m in the open.

Yield: Greenhouse cucumbers average 20 fruits per plant, outdoor 12 to 15.

Fruit or Vegetable? Cucumbers are scientifically classified as fruits. Having an enclosed seed and developing from a flower.
Buy Cucumber Seeds

Growing Cucumbers

When growing cucumbers it is worth bearing in mind that quite a lot of space is required, if space is limited young shoots can be trained along wires, rather like tomatoes.

Although once a tricky grower because of the male/female pollination process, the arrival of F1 hybrid varieties have made it much easier. These varieties produce only female flowers, fruits that are fertilised by male flowers are bitter tasting.

Follow the germination guidelines on the back of the seed packet or use the technique below.

Sow seeds singly in 3" pots filled with a good quality potting compost. Place the seed on its edge, sideways, half an inch deep. The compost must be thoroughly damp as the seeds have a very hard casing, not enough water will lead to no germination.

Cover the pots with plastic (cling film or bin liner) and place in a warm room at least 15 C, or ideally 18- 25C, a heated propagator is ideal.

After germination remove the covering and place in a light position on the windowsill or in the greenhouse. These plants are quick growing and will need staking with a cane. Keep the temperature as constant as you can, trying not to drop below 15 C, especially at night.

Pot them on after 3 weeks or when the roots appear around the rootball. Use bigger pots (5'' to 6").

When the pots are full of roots and four leaves have fully expanded, nip out the growing tip.

These are now ready to be transplanted to their final position. Use a 12" pot if growing in a container. Erect something for them to climb up eg, bamboo canes at an angle or wires attached to the greenhouse roof.

Cucumber fruit developing on plants possessing multiple lateral branching, which is atypical of commercial cucumbers. This type of branching is important because increasing branch number increases yield potential.

Exhibition & Showing Cucumbers

Judges will be looking for straight fruits of uniform thickness.

Cut the fruits off the parent late in the evening when they are fully charged with water.

A pointed cucumber is not ripe.

Cucumbers are usually shown in pairs between 30 to 37cm long.

Cut the fruit with a length of stem; it can be handled by the stem and the bloom will not get damaged.

The flower should be on the end, the fruit should be young, crisp and tender.

If your fruits are at their best a few days before the show, cut them off the vine and place them stem downwards in a bucket of water, change the water every day.

Points Tally: 4=Uniform  4=Colour  5=Condition/Firmness  5=Size/shape

 

Cucumber Problems
Symptoms Probable Causes  
Leaves turn yellow. Silky webs on plant. Red spider mite  
Leaves turn yellow. Small green insects. Greenfly
Clouds of tiny insects. Whitefly  
Holes in leaves or stems. Slime trail. Snail / Slug
Leaves discoloured, plant collapses. Root knot Eelworm  
Grey fluffy growth on stems, fruit and leaves. Botyritis
Leaves wilt, dark stem, plant dies. Collar rot  
Leaves mottled yellow, wilting. Mosaic Virus
Leaves turn yellow from base upwards. Verticillium wilt  
Sunken, oozing spots on fruit. Gummosis
Wet dark wounds on stems, leaves and fruit. Sclerotinia disease  

 

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