Growing rare and delicious heritage cucumbers

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

 

Getting started

Cucumbers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  Modern hybrid types produce all female flowers, the seed is extremely expensive and you cannot save it; which is why I grow traditional open-pollinated varieties which can be grown both inside 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 of my favourite Syrian cucumber early in April in my propagator set at 22 degrees centigrade, although a sunny windowsill is fine – two or three 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 grow on in a sunny position indoors or a greenhouse.

growing on and harvesting

Once the plants are about 20cms high they should be ready to plant into their permanent positions.  If growing indoor varieties they should be planted 60cms apart and tied to canes that are the height of the greenhouse.  I then run wires at 30cm intervals across the canes so that I can tie in the side shoots of the plants as they grow.

Once the first flowers appear I feed weekly with comfrey or an organic liquid fertiliser.  Being a short, Lebanese type these cucumbers are at their tastiest when they are about 12cms long.  So delicious I pick and eat just like apple, straight from the vine.

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