Growing cucumbers both outside and in a greenhouse or polytunnel requires a little effort for a very large crop

Young cucumber plants growing up canes and along wires in one of my polytunnels in July

Cucumbers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  Modern hybrid types produce all female flowers and the seed is extremely expensive but a couple of plants will provide enough produce to feed a family as well as many friends and neighbours.  There are many traditional varieties which can be grown both inside under glass and outside.  However, to get good crops the plants need to be very well fed and watered and allowed to grow up canes and along wires to ensue the best crops.

I like to sow seed early in April in my propagator set at 24 degrees centigrade, although a sunny windowsill is fine – one seed of hybrid types and two or three of other types on their edge into seed compost in 75mm or 100mm pots.  As the seedlings emerge select the strongest to grow on, removing the rest.  Once you have four true leaves the seedlings can be removed from the propagator and allowed to grow on on a shelf.

Once the plants are about 20cms high they should be ready to plant into their permanent positions.  If growing under indoor varieties they should be planted one metre apart and tied to canes that are the height of eth greenhouse.  I then run wires at 20cm intervals across the canes so that I can tie in the side shoots of the plants as they grow.

Ripening cucumber grown from seed I found in a market in Zanzibar. The young fruits are delicious and I grow on some good specimens to save their seed

Young Zanzibar cucumbers starting to grow on vigorously in early June

I also grow cucumbers outside. This variety is called Muncher. Stubby, tasty fruit grow on easily manageable vines. I have also grown Muncher in a polytunnel allowing the plant to run freely along the ground with very good results.

Dekah Cucumber ripening

Dekah is an off-list variety of prickly-skinned cucumber I got initially from the Heritage Seed Library.  The fruit are early, have great resistance to mildew and produce delicious fruit over a long growing season.  this year I need to save more seed so have left a few fruit to grow to full maturity.  When ripe they will be over 30cms long!

7 thoughts on “Cucumbers

  1. Hi Adam,
    Can you remind me, I got some dekah cucumber seeds from you a few years back but have lost the information as to whether the plant needs male flowers removed, I don’t remember deflowering but wanted to make sure?
    I am pleased to report that they had 100% germination success rate and I hope to save some seed if I can!
    Btw, I could not find your seed list for 2020, do you have a mailing list I could join for next year

    • Hi TJ,

      Yes, there is no need to remove flowers from Dekah, which BTW is now available commercially again as Dekan. The seed list is on the website. I will update again at teh end of teh yar.

      Best wishes and good growing

      • Hi Adam,
        How long should delay be for eating?
        If I want to take seed:
        1. Do only fertilised cucumbers become fruit?
        2. I have 4 plants in close proximity to each other, they all have fruit up to two inches currently, one of them has a four inch fruit, is it best to let that one continue to ripen to be sure of getting seed, does that effectively write off that plant off in terms of more fruit?
        3. Without heat/proper cover, am I likely to get seed and how long do they take to ripen enough for seed?
        Hope you can find time to answer, the info I have found so far says “depending on variety” for all the above . Any other info would be vastly appreciated!
        Many thanks

        • Hi TJ,

          1. I eat the cucumbers when they are small. The Syrian ones are at their best for eating when around 12/15cms
          2. Female cucumbers of this type can swell without fertilisation but generally this does not happen. You need both male and female flowers for success – unlike with all-female hybrids.
          3. The plants will keep growing even if you leave some fruits to mature. However, I would select one plant from which to save seed and allow two or three fruits to mature. You need to leave them on teh plant until they are fully ripe – over ripe actually. They will get very large around 30+cms and turn yellow. Depending on how warm the summer is you should get seed. Check out my website for instructions on extraction, cleaning etc.

          Very good luck!!

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