Cucumbers

Home grown cucumbers have an aroma and taste that leave supermarket specimens standing and despite many gardeners suggesting they require a glasshouse all to themselves, I myself  grow them, very successfully, in the same house as tomatoes.

Cucumbers like humidity but the plants must be kept dry; they also wilt quickly under direct sun so the plants require shading throughout the season. Tomatoes also enjoy humidity but can be sprayed over their foliage with water in order to help pollination of the flowers. Tomatoes are also happy in a unshaded glasshouse where the sun and warm air can aid ripening. So when growing the two crops in the same glasshouse it is best to plant cucumbers at one end which can be shaded without it affecting the tomatoes.

Cucumbers are also gross feeders and must never dry out at the roots. To this end it is best to grow them on specially prepared beds which will stay moist and hold high amounts of nutrients. We used to grow them on straw bales which were rotted down by adding fertiliser, copious amounts of water with the plants being planted on the top, in compost, once the bales had cooled down. Amateur beds can be made by laying down layers of well rotted manure, garden compost or straw based horse manure, a layer of compost between each and a handful of fish, blood and bone or pelleted chicken manure sprinkled onto each layer. Water regularly and leave for a couple of weeks.

On top of this and once the cucumbers are planted, they will require extra feeding when cropping starts. This can be done using ‘dried blood’ which is an excellent nitrogen feed and which can be sprinkled onto the beds and watered in.

Cucumbers will soon let you know if they are hungry as they can regulate the number of fruits produced to the amount of nutrients that they are receiving precisely. If you are stingy then they will abort young cucumbers, as simple as that.

The other point to remember with this crop is that during a cool spell in summer, all female varieties have a tendency to produce male flowers. This means disaster if a bee get near them but a likely event with tomato flowers being produced next door. Pollinated cucumbers have a bitter taste.

Despite the expense and possible problems, there is nothing finer than cutting a fresh  cucumber from your own glasshouse How many you cut – well that’s now up to you.

 

cucumbers .

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