How to grow cucumbers
Cucumbers are brilliantly easy to grow and extremely productive, asking only for sun and something to climb up before rewarding you with bright flowers and endless juicy fruit.
The longer, smooth-skinned varieties of cucumber need the warm humid environment of the greenhouse while smaller, prickly, ridge cucumbers can be grown quite happily outside in the ground from May onwards, just give them the warmest, sunniest spot you've got such as the base of a south facing, sheltered wall. Cucumbers can be grown directly in the ground or in pots, containers or grow-bag provided it is not less than 20cm deep.
How to grow cucumbers
When choosing cucumbers to grow at home, make sure you choose the right one for either indoor or outdoor growing. Another tip on how to grow cucumbers is to go for F1 cultivars of smooth skinned types, as they are all female plants. Other types of cucumbers will produce both male and female flowers and the male flowers will need to be picked off to prevent them pollinating the female flowers and turning the fruit bitter.
Cucumbers can be grown on in the greenhouse or on the windowsill from early spring onwards. Good advice on how to grow cucumbers is that they hate root disturbance so either sow them in their final position or into biodegradable pots or modular cells to reduce plant stress later on. Sow cucumber seeds on their side to prevent rotting and if sowing directly outside cover with a cloche or horticultural fleece to provide extra warmth. Keep the compost or soil moist and pot on young plants as they grow. If growing cucumbers outside, harden them off gradually over a week or so before planting them in a warm, sunny, sheltered spot. You can also buy young plants, including grafted ones, from the garden centre in late spring to grow on.
Cucumbers are climbing plants so once they are in their final spot train the main stem up a cane, wigwam or vertical wire. Smaller cucumber varieties grown in pots can be left to trail over the pot. Pinch out the growing tip once it reaches the greenhouse roof, or if outside, once it has produced seven leaves and pinch out the growing tips to focus energy into fruit production. Being almost all water, cucumbers are very thirsty plants so keep cucumbers constantly moist and when growing cucumbers always water around the plant and not over it. Feed plants every two weeks with a liquid high potash feed such as a tomato fertiliser, once fruits start to develop.
When to sow and harvest cucumbers
A good tip on when to harvest cucumbers is that their skins toughen with age so pick them young, cutting them with a sharp knife. Cucumbers can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.