If you only want to grow a few vegetables, are new to vegetable growing, or are growing vegetables with kids, I’d really recommend trying cucumbers. They are pretty easy once they get going, and it’s great fun to pick your own cucumbers.
Here are a few tips:
- Choosing the right cucumber to grow is important. There are outdoor (ridge) types and indoor (smooth) varieties, so make sure you get the right kind.
- You probably only need 1 or 2 plants, unless you really love cucumbers! So it’s worth buying good seeds or plants – flavour is a matter of opinion, but personally, I think the ridge varieties taste much better.
- It’s not cheating to buy a pack of plants from the garden centre instead of growing from seed!
- Grow your cucumbers up over a frame or on canes, rather than letting them sprawl over the ground. This takes up less space and they are less likely to be attacked by slugs.
- Cucumbers are easy to grow in containers – like most vegetables they like rich compost with lots of organic matter.
- Different cucumber types have different types of flowers, and sometimes you have to remove the ‘male’ flowers to avoid getting bitter fruits – so check your variety.
- You can pinch out the growing shoots to improve productivity and keep the plants within their space.
- Cucumbers, especially indoor varieties, hate sudden temperature changes so if possible, keep them away from windows and doors of the greenhouse. They like high humidity, so spraying with water can help and they like their compost to be kept consistently moist
- It’s important to feed your cucumber plants regularly once they start flowering and fruiting: any liquid fertilizer is fine – just use according to the instructions.
Here are a few links (if you’ve got other favourite sites, books or videos I’d love to know!):
- Here is a really nice, fuss-free introduction to growing cucumbers on YouTube
- Allotment-garden.org has got lots of advice – perhaps a bit more detailed that you need, but it’s written in a friendly and jargon-free style.
- Thompson and Morgan are trying to sell you their seeds, but their advice pages are a useful place to start.
- Here is a list of cucumber varieties awarded the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society – so this is a good place to start when choosing which varieties to grow.