Growing Cucumbers at the Allotment

Growing Cucumbers at the Allotment

Cucumbers are classed as fruit in the same family as marrows and squash. They are a climbing plant and therefore take up little space. They need warmth and sunlight and are best grown inside a greenhouse although you can grow them outdoors if you have a sunny spot in a milder location. 

You can sow cucumber seeds from March indoors, ideally in a propagator or on a sunny windowsill. If you are sowing in an unheated greenhouse, wait until April and May-June if you are sowing outdoors. Sow the seeds on their sides, approximately 1/2 inch deep in small pots or trays to begin with. 

To grow on your cucumbers, they are best off in a greenhouse in grow bags or large containers, and they will need support so that they can be trained to climb and help support the heavy glut of fruits your plant will later produce. 
They will continually require warmth and sunlight, and regular watering.

However, the best method of watering would be to place an open-ended pot next to the plant to fill with water. This prevents the stem from rotting. Keep your growing area humid; water the floor of the greenhouse to create this affect. 
As your plant grows, look out for green fly, slugs or mildew. 

Pinch out the tips and side shoots to encourage energy used towards the growth of your crops too. Leave two leaves after each fruit. 

Check whether your plant has male or female flowers - usually they are female, but it may be required to remove male flowers as they result in bitter tasting cucumbers. 

Outdoor varieties should be hardened off and be planted May-June in approximately 12 inch circumference hole with rich compost; you can earth it up slightly and use fleece for added protection. Still use the open-ended pot method for watering and ensure your positioning is a sunny yet sheltered spot and regularly check for pests. 

Your plant will produce several cucumbers and you will need to cut a few smaller ones to encourage growth as opposed to allowing all the fruit to fully mature, which will result in a poorer crop. Cut, do not pull as this will damage the plant. They grow quite quickly and so ensure you cut them before turning yellow and over-ripe. They should be ready; depending on variety and location during mid-summer to mid-autumn. 

Cucumbers can be stored but not frozen, they will keep in a refrigerator in the short term. Some varieties need peeling before using them. 

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Growing Cucumbers in Summary

Sowing Cucumbers

  • Sow March onwards heated indoors 
  • Sow seeds side on in a propagator
  • Keep in a warm and sunny spot

Growing Cucumbers

  • Ideally in a greenhouse, in large containers or grow bags
  • Offer support for this climbing plant bearing fruits
  • Water away fom the stem

Harvesting Cucumbers

  • Cut, do not pull
  • Cut regularly to encourage re-growth
  • Harvest mid summer to mid autumn