Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus)
Often thought of as being a bit tricky, recent breeding and F1 varieties have made cucumbers easier to cultivate and crop well. But, they still need some care and attention to produce a good crop all summer long.
Outdoor cucumbers (sometimes referred to as ridge cucumbers, as they always used to be planted on raised mounds or ridges) need a position in full sun and enriched, well-drained soil that holds plenty of moisture and nutrients.
Cultivating cucumbers indoors under glass, such as in a greenhouse or grow frame, is usually more reliable - especially in poor summers - and the plants start cropping earlier in the summer and for longer.
Use our How to Grow Cucumbers guide for more information.
Different varieties are needed for indoor or outside planting.
Good varieties include:
- Outdoor Burpless Tasty Green, Marketmore
- Indoor Femdan F1, Femspot F1, Pepinex 69 F1, Telegraph Improved, Tokyo Slicer F1.
Sow in small pots after germination and when growing on the plants.
Be careful not to overwater the young plants.
Alternatively, you can buy young plants from your local garden centre or mail order seed supplier.
Plant outdoor plants from the end of May/early June after frosts are forecast.
How to care for cucumbers
Transfer young plants in late March (heated greenhouse), late May (unheated greenhouse) or early June outdoors.
For outdoors try planting them on new compost heaps, where the heat from the rotting material will benefit the crop.
Keep the humidity around the plants high by watering the floor.
Train the main stem up a vertical wire or cane.
Covering the soil around the plants with black polythene will help improve yields, keep down weeds and keep the fruit off the soil, but may encourage slugs.
Harvesting your cucumbers
Harvest the fruit by cutting the stem just above the fruit with a sharp knife when it reaches a good size and has a rounded end and parallel sides.
Try our How to Grow Cucumbers guide for more helpful advice and information.
Cucumbers may also be susceptible to cucumber mosaic virus.