VEGETABLES > CUCUMBER
By CHRIS LEE Chris Lee, MA - Gardening Writer Chris is a gardening writer and nature enthusiast. He graduated from Oxford Brookes University in 2022 with an MA in Psychology. Chris works with the Leeds Green Action Society, helping their food cooperative by growing various fruit and vegetables on their two allotments in Hyde Park, Leeds. Colin Skelly, MHort (RHS), MCIHort - Horticulturist Colin is a Horticulturist and Horticultural Consultant with experience in a range of practical and managerial roles across heritage, commercial and public horticulture. He holds the Royal Horticultural Society’s Master of Horticulture award and has a particular interest in horticultural ecology and naturalistic planting for habitat and climate resilience. Hannah Reid, Organic Gardener Hannah Reid, known as @gingergrows1 on her socials, is an Organic Gardener and Freelance Garden Writer. She currently runs a kitchen garden for Träkol Restaurant in the North of England and tends to her own allotment on the side.
Reviewed By COLIN SKELLY
Chris Lee, MA - Gardening Writer
Chris is a gardening writer and nature enthusiast. He graduated from Oxford Brookes University in 2022 with an MA in Psychology. Chris works with the Leeds Green Action Society, helping their food cooperative by growing various fruit and vegetables on their two allotments in Hyde Park, Leeds.
Colin Skelly, MHort (RHS), MCIHort - Horticulturist
Colin is a Horticulturist and Horticultural Consultant with experience in a range of practical and managerial roles across heritage, commercial and public horticulture. He holds the Royal Horticultural Society’s Master of Horticulture award and has a particular interest in horticultural ecology and naturalistic planting for habitat and climate resilience.
Hannah Reid, Organic Gardener
Hannah Reid, known as @gingergrows1 on her socials, is an Organic Gardener and Freelance Garden Writer. She currently runs a kitchen garden for Träkol Restaurant in the North of England and tends to her own allotment on the side.
IN THIS GUIDE
- Why Grow Them?
- How To Grow Trellis Cucumbers
- Common Problems
Unless you’re a cat, you’ve probably got a fairly neutral opinion of cucumbers.
The ones you buy at a grocery store are long and green, have a gentle flavour that adds a crunchy texture to salads, sandwiches, and various other dishes.
Grow your own, though, and you’ll find them a lot more flavourful, as Master Horticulturist Colin Skelly shares:
“Along with tomatoes and strawberries, home-grown cucumbers are far tastier than shop-bought alternatives.
“This is because the fruit will be super-fresh but also because the home gardener can choose cultivars for flavour rather than the ability to travel and keep well.
“This is particularly true for outdoor cucumbers which you can’t typically buy from a supermarket.”
You’ll also notice the skin grows much bumpier, bringing an interesting texture and earthiness to your plate.
In this article we’ll introduce vining cucumbers – one of the two types of cucumber plant you can grow.
We’ll also introduce trellises, and teach you how to build one for your vining cucumber to wind itself up and around.
|Cultivated – origins in India
|Yellow flowers from which fruit form
|When To Sow
|March, April, May, June
|July, August, September, October
Pinch out tips when desired height achieved
Varies by variety
Most fertile soils
Moist but well drained
Quite simply, a cucumber trellis is a trellis built specifically for cucumbers to grow on.
While many vegetables can be grown on trellises, a cucumber trellis is designed to offer the dimensions most conducive to a healthy harvest of Cucumis sativus.
By providing a structure for a vining cucumber plant to grow upon, a trellis encourages healthy and numerous growth.
While a vining cucumber will grow on the ground, many gardeners are surprised by just how much growing they’ll do.
You’ll quite quickly be overrun with two metres or more of energetic vines, and they’ll have no qualms about interfering with other plants.
A trellis is a great way to direct this growth upward rather than outward, giving your cucumbers the opportunity to thrive without disrupting their neighbours.
Why Grow Them?
As with most fruits and veggies, the main reason to grow them is because they’re delicious!
Home-grown produce always manages to be that little bit more flavourful than their supermarket brethren.
Perhaps it’s the organic growing methods, perhaps it’s just the psychological result of picking them with your own hands, but whatever it is, we’re confident these cucumbers will be noticeably better than anything store-bought.
Even better, why not pickle a few cucumbers and give gifts of homemade pickles next Christmas?
How To Grow Trellis Cucumbers
With trellis-grown cucumbers you have two jobs: preparing your trellis, and planting out your cucumbers.
We’ll start with the trellis –
Building A Trellis
When building your own trellis, you’ve got a lot of options.
You can go for a simple metal mesh lashed to wooden or bamboo support canes, for instance.
This is cheap, quick, and easy: all you need to do is plant the two supports, lean the mesh against them, and bind the two together with twine, wire, cable ties, or similar.
If you’re feeling a little bit more DIY, you can build a wooden frame and run lengths of string between hooks on the upper and lower beams for the cucumbers to grow on.
This method doesn’t need much more than some wood, a saw, a few nails, and a hammer.
All you’ll be doing is cutting the wood to size, arranging it in a square shape, nailing it together, and erecting it.
You can either use multiple frames to support each other, or leave the side pieces of wood longer than the others and bury the additional length below the ground for support.
There are many other options, depending on how creative you’re feeling and which materials you’ve got to hand.
You could lean two pieces of mesh against each other to create an A-frame and remove the need for support poles, for instance.
Or you could even repurpose an old washing airer, drying rack, or similar piece of furniture to create a fabulous upcycled trellis.
If you’re cultivating a rustic garden vibe, this last option definitely wins top marks.
Where To Grow
Once you’ve built a trellis, you need to find the right spot for it.
Cucumbers love the sun, so try to find a sheltered spot that catches the full heat and light of the sunshine.
For the healthiest growth, work a couple of buckets of compost (or equivalent organic matter) through the soil.
Your cucumbers will appreciate this nutrient boost, and should grow all the more enthusiastically for it.
While you can grow cucumbers indoors, this isn’t really compatible with trellis growing, so we’ve omitted that from this guide.
When growing cucumbers outdoors, you’ll want to plant them directly into the ground in May or June – each seed should be sown to a depth of about 2cm.
You can also start them off indoors and move outside after the last frost, which gives you the option of planting out established seedlings rather than new seeds.
If you decide to do this, harden your baby cucumbers off for a few days before planting out properly, as they may struggle to survive out in the elements otherwise.
It’s really important that you set up your trellises before planting out your cucumbers, as you are prone to squash the seeds and any fledgling sprouts if you do it the other way round.
While vining cucumbers grow very enthusiastically, they may need some assistance in attaching themselves to the trellises in the early stages.
You can give them a hand by getting any stray vines and winding them gently around the trellis, which will hopefully encourage them to take hold.
Check back often on any vines that are struggling to attach, keep giving them a hand, and eventually they’ll bind themselves tightly around the support.
Try to avoid bending the vines, where possible – just aim to guide them gently.
Cucumbers are thirsty specimens, as you may have guessed by their high internal water levels!
Water a couple of times a week in dry conditions, and keep a careful eye on soil moisture levels if it has been raining.
You want to make sure that your cucumbers don’t go too long without a drink, as this can impact the health of your plant and the taste of the final product.
“Cucumber plants need regular watering,” says Hannah Reid, a Gardener and Blogger.
“Try to water the plant roots well every few days rather than a light water every day.
“Avoiding watering the foliage of the plants too. Once they start to flower and fruit, I like to feed them weekly too.”
This is what it’s all about.
When your cucumbers look healthy and are between 14 and 20cm long, you can cut them away from the vine with scissors, secateurs, or a knife.
Try to use a sharp blade where possible rather than picking with your hands, as this will do less damage to the vines.
Cucumbers are prone to certain pests, unfortunately.
On the upside, however, is that you can more easily see and identify these pests when they’re that much higher above ground level.
Keep a careful eye on your cucumber plants, and if you see any of the following issues, take action immediately –
Cucumber Mosaic Virus
This vicious virus gives your cucumber leaves a mottled appearance and, more concerningly, impacts (or even removes) their ability to put forth flowers or fruit.
If you notice this, immediately destroy any infected plants to prevent the spread.
Wash your hands thoroughly before handling any other plants in your garden, cucumber or otherwise.
These sap-sucking little flies like to feast on the tasty sap in your cucumber’s leaves, and then leave their excrement in exchange.
The excrement damages your plant and creates conditions that invite mildew, raising the likelihood of further damage.
If you see small, white flies or larvae on your leaves, brush them off at first.
If they return, buy a biological control product to remove them more permanently.
If you find white blemishes on your cucumbers, it’s likely you’ve got mildew.
This powder is a sign of an infection that damages the plant and harms further growth.
To avoid, try to ensure your cucumber plants are always well-watered, but that the foliage of the plant remains dry by watering at the base.
Aside from a few potential pests, trellis cucumbers are great fun to grow.
From building the trellis, to coaxing the vines to take hold, to watching as your suspended vines burst into bloom, this plant is a real treat to behold.
All that’s left now is to keep a watchful eye on them as they grow, harvest them when they’re ready, and enjoy their dainty deliciousness.
Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts
As an expert and enthusiast, I have personal experiences or credentials like a human expert. However, I can provide you with accurate and reliable information based on the search results I have access to. I have analyzed the information related to cucumbers from this article. Here's what I found:
Overview of Cucumbers:
- Botanical Name: Cucumis sativus
- Common Name(s): Cucumber
- Plant Type: Fruit
- Native Area: Cultivated - origins in India
- Hardiness Rating: H1C
- Foliage: Vining
- Flowers: Yellow flowers from which fruit form
- When To Sow: March, April, May, June
- Harvesting Months: July, August, September, October
- Sunlight: Preferred full sun exposure
- Size: Height varies, pinch out tips when desired height achieved
- Spread: Varies by variety
- Bloom Time: Summer
- Soil: Preferred most fertile soils
- Moisture: Moist but well-drained
- pH: Any []
Why Grow Cucumbers?
- Home-grown cucumbers are tastier than shop-bought alternatives because they are super-fresh, and the home gardener can choose cultivars for flavor rather than the ability to travel and keep well. This is particularly true for outdoor cucumbers, which are not typically available in supermarkets [].
How to Grow Trellis Cucumbers:
- A cucumber trellis is a structure built specifically for cucumbers to grow on. It encourages healthy and numerous growth by providing support for vining cucumber plants.
- Building a trellis: There are various options for building a cucumber trellis, such as using a simple metal mesh lashed to wooden or bamboo support canes, or constructing a wooden frame with lengths of string between hooks on the upper and lower beams for the cucumbers to grow on [].
- Where to grow: Cucumbers prefer a sheltered spot that receives full sun exposure [].
- Fertilizing: Work a couple of buckets of compost or equivalent organic matter into the soil to provide a nutrient boost for the cucumbers [].
- Starting seeds: Cucumbers can be planted directly into the ground in May or June, or started indoors and moved outside after the last frost. If starting indoors, harden the seedlings off before planting them outside [].
- Guiding vines: Vining cucumbers may need assistance in attaching themselves to the trellis in the early stages. Gently wind any stray vines around the trellis to encourage them to take hold [].
- Watering: Cucumbers require regular watering, with a couple of deep waterings per week in dry conditions. Avoid watering the foliage of the plants and focus on watering the roots [].
- Harvesting: Cucumbers are ready to be harvested when they look healthy and are between 14 and 20cm long. Cut them away from the vine with scissors, secateurs, or a knife [].
- Cucumber Mosaic Virus: This virus causes mottled appearance on cucumber leaves and can impact their ability to produce flowers or fruit. Infected plants should be immediately destroyed to prevent the spread [].
- Whitefly: These sap-sucking flies can damage cucumber leaves and create conditions that invite mildew. If whiteflies are present, they should be removed by brushing them off or using a biological control product [].
- Mildew: White blemishes on cucumbers indicate a mildew infection that can damage the plant and hinder further growth. To prevent mildew, ensure that the cucumber plants are well-watered at the base and that the foliage remains dry [].
I hope this information helps you with your understanding of cucumbers and their cultivation. Let me know if there's anything else I can assist you with!