Cucumbers can be incredibly productive when grown correctly. So follow this guide to get bucketloads of cucumbers this year.
The first question you need to answer is, what type of cucumber do you want to grow?
This may seem like a silly question at first, but there are actually many different types.
Here in the UK, we grow two main types, greenhouse cucumbers and outdoor or ridged cucumbers, but even this doesn’t cover everything.
There are also lunchbox cucumbers, which produce a lot of smaller fruits, and pickling cucumbers.
Lunbox cucumbers are commonly grown under glass and pickling cucumbers outdoors.
I recommend growing indoors to begin with, it is easier, and the cucumbers are more like what you would expect from the supermarket.
As with all cucurbits, cucumbers have large seeds that produce large, quick-growing seedlings.
Because of this, I don’t recommend sowing them into small module trays.
Instead, plant the seeds straight into a pot or a large root trainer.
You need to start cucumber seeds off indoors or in a greenhouse as they are very susceptible to the cold.
Cucumbers have a long time to harvest, so early indoor sowing is a great way to extend your growing season.
I sow mine in a propagator in March/April.
Once your young plants are well established, they will need to be moved to their final growing spot.
Outdoor varieties can be moved outdoors in early summer once the nights have warmed up.
Greenhouse cucumbers can be planted once all risk of frost has passed or earlier if your greenhouse is heated.
When planting in a greenhouse you have lots of options, cucumbers will happily grow in pots, grow bags or beds.
When it comes to cucumbers, it is useful to know the difference between male and female types.
Above, you can see a female cucumber flower with the fruit behind the flower.
Below is a male flower which has no fruit behind it.
It is important to know the distinction between the two because not all cucumbers should produce male flowers.
Many modern greenhouse cucumbers will be all female and do not need to be pollinated by a male flower.
Outdoor cucumbers will produce both male and female flowers that must be pollinated.
You do not want to grow both types in a greenhouse together.
This is because if the all-female types are pollinated by a male flower, then the fruit will become incredibly bitter and inedible.
The all-female varieties can still produce male flowers when under stress, so if you notice some, then snip them off immediately.
Cucumbers can be left to sprawl along the ground but it is a much more efficient use of space if you can train them vertically, particularly in a greenhouse.
Lots of different methods can be used, but I like to train mine up a string dangling from the roof, as you can see in the photo above.
Trellises are common for outdoor varieties and can often be made from propping one end of a pallet up.
Cucumbers are hungry plants and do benefit from regular feeding.
As with a lot of fruiting veg, tomato feed works really well.
However it is not essential, and I often find I have more cucumbers than I know what to do with even without feeding them.
I like to snip my cucumbers off using my fruit-harvesting snips.
These are available in my store and are a fantastic product, check them out at the link below.
Cucumbers are ready whenever they reach the appropriate size for that type.
I know this sounds vague, but harvesting cucumbers is actually quite simple and hard to get wrong. Even very young cucumbers can be harvested and eaten but they will just be small.
The only thing you can get wrong is leaving them on the plant too long, as they will keep growing.
While they can end up huge, they don’t taste anywhere near as good as when they are picked younger.
Varieties I Like
Here are the varieties I regularly grow, although I do recommend you experiment and find what works for you!