Cucumbers love the heat and are extremely fast growers and when it rains they produce bumper harvests. They are a great veggie as they can be pickled, added to any salad or even a sandwich. They can be grown up trellises for space-saving too. You only need 1-2 cucumber plants for a family of four for a season and I prefer the Lebanese variety.
WHEN TO PLANT:
Tropical Climate / Subtropical Climate – July – March
Temperate Climate – September – January* After last frosts
Cooler Climate : October – December* After last frosts
PLANTING: Cucumbers love rich soil with organic matter and prefer full sun or little shade. Cucumbers need warm soil to germinate. I start them in seed trays in a warm place and then nurture the seedlings for a few weeks before planting out into the soil. In frost areas it is best to cover your plants with plastic bottles for protection until they become large enough and the frosts are over.
I plant my cucumbers as a trio (triangle shape) about 20cm apart this makes watering easier. Cucumbers can claim the ground by spreading there vines but they also can be trellised. They will need a little help in the climbing department but it is a great way to save space as well as ease with picking.
WATER: Water daily or twice when the weather is extreme.
PESTS & FERTILIZER: Fertilize with a nitrogen rich liquid fertilizer or worm tea every four weeks.
Fungal disease: leaf spot – use chamomile tea as a spray, powdery mildew – use a milk spray
COMPANION PLANTS: beetroot, carrots and peas. Corn and sunflowers make great natural shade protection or as a trellis.
WHEN TO HARVEST: Cucumbers are ready two months after planting. Pick them when they are firm and the skin is slightly glossy. If left on the vine they will swell with water. Once the vine starts producing check at least every two days for new fruits. Making sure to check under all the vines as cucumbers can be very sneaky.
I pinch my cucumbers off the vine with my fingers or you can use a knife to cut the fruit from the vine. They keep well in the fridge once picked.
NOTES: The larger cucumbers can be kept for seed saving for the following year or sharing with friends. Just scrape a few seeds on to some kitchen paper and allow them to dry keeping them away from moisture. Once they are dry store in an air tight bag.