Cucumber: Growing Tips
Most of us appreciate the value offor use in salads and sandwiches, and they are a crop well worth growing if a minimum temperature of 16°C. (60°F.) can be maintained. The best and biggest crops are obtained from greenhouse-grown cucumbers but they can also be grown in frames if so desired, whichever method is chosen, the plants need close attention to detail if they are to flourish.
The seeds can be sown singly in 3-in. pots of seed compost at intervals between January and the end of April and germinated in a temperature of 18 to 21 °C. (65 to 70°F.). The seedlings will appear within three or four days given warm, moist conditions. They should be watered freely.
Before the plants fill their pots with roots they should be planted out in a bed on the greenhouse staging or in large pots filled with goodsuch as the John Innes No. 3 Potting Compost. If planting out has to be delayed it is wise to move the plants from their 3-in. pots into 5-in. pots to prevent them becoming starved and setting back their growth.
To prepare the bed, make a ridge of rich compost about 15 in. wide and 7 in. deep in the centre for the young plants and plant these 3 to 5 ft. apart. A suitable mixture would be the John Innes No. 3 Potting Compost.
Topdressing and Feeding
When the white roots of the plants break through the surface, topdress by adding a thin layer of similar compost. Feeds of a suitable fertiliser will maintain good growth.
The main stem of eachshould be tied to a vertical wire or bamboo cane and allowed to grow until it reaches the top of the roof before the tip is removed. Side stems or laterals will form and the tips of these should be removed at one leaf beyond the first fruit. The shoots should be tied carefully to horizontal wires and sub-laterals must all be kept stopped at one leaf beyond the first fruit. All male must also be removed to prevent fertilisation of the female flowers as this would make the fruits bitter.
If the plants are grown well, fruit can be cut within 12 to 14 weeks of sowing the seed.
Shade is needed from strong sunshine and copious supplies of water are needed as the plants develop. Syringe the plants daily with tepid water.
If the plants are to be grown in frames, sow the seed in March as already described. The young plants can be planted in a similar compost to that used in the greenhouse. In heated frames they should be planted in April and in unheated frames at the end of May or in early June. Soon after planting the plants are stopped by pinching out the growing point. Four lateral growths are then allowed to develop and these are trained to the four corners of the frame and stopped at the fourth leaf. Shade the glass to prevent the sun scorching the plants. Cut the cucumbers regularly when they reach a suitable size. Again, the plants will need a lot of water and weekly feeding with a compound fertiliser when they are established will pay. Topdress the beds as already described above.
Butcher’s Disease-resisting is a splendid old variety which is much favoured and Simex is a recently introduced, non-bitter, all female F, hybrid. Improved Telegraph is especially suitable for frame cultivation