Cucumbers are a staple of British allotments, found growing in greenhouses and polytunnels up and down the isles, with a few hardy species even growing outdoors. These fast-growing plants are eager to grow, but they require proper support and training in order to maximise your yield. So how do you train cucumbers? Let’s find out.
How to train cucumbers
Cucumbers can be easily trained to grow up supports, often made from bamboo canes (string suspended from the roof of a greenhouse is becoming more and more popular though). To begin with, you need to build this support structure, I like to do this when the cucumbers are still seedlings. If you leave it too late you risk disturbing and damaging the plants while you are building this support structure.
I use one vertical cane for each cucumber, this is the main cane the cucumber will grow up. I then use a horizontal support can across the top of all the canes. This helps to keep all of the canes upright and adds strength to the whole construction.
I also add a few ties into the roof structure of my greenhouse/polytunnel. This again adds extra support and helps take the weight of the cucumber plants which will be growing up this support.
Tying the cucumbers in
You want to keep tying the head of the cucumber into the cane as it grows up.
I like to twist the cucumber around the cane as it grows as this helps it to “stick” to the cane.
Then once I have the cucumber in the position I want it I will tie it in with a metal cable twist tie.
You just simply twist these to tie them in.
You don’t want to make these ties too tight as this will restrict the cucumber as it grows and can lead to damage as the stem gets bigger and bigger.
As tomatoes have side shoots so do cucumbers. You want to cut these off, I know I know its hard to cut off productive growth which may even have little baby cucumbers on. but believe me, it is for the best, for you and the plant.
Here you can see a perfect example of a side shoot on a cucumber. They are essentially any growth coming away from the main stem. These will grow and grow, which sounds good but is actually a problem.
Getting rid of all this side growth promotes more growth on the main stem. If you leave it up to the cucumber then you will end up with vines everywhere and tons of little tiny cucumbers. There is a limit to the amount of fruit a single cucumber can produce so we need to encourage the plant to put extra effort into growing fruit rather than leaves.
There are other added benefits too, such as extra airflow which will help to keep your cucumber plants in tip-top shape. Another plus is that it will make it easier to see the fruit growing. If you have ever let cucumbers grow wild you will know how quickly they can turn your greenhouse into a jungle and it can actually get quite difficult to spot the fruit on the plant.