Cultivating cucumbers

Garden Life
Due to their fresh taste, cucumbers are a highly popular vegetable and a pleasant refreshment in warm or hot temperatures. In addition, they are rich in vitamins and mineral acids, but have hardly any calories. Cucumbers can be used fresh as a salad or in mixed salads, or as a snack. The cucumber is one of the most alkaline-rich vegetables.

The plant bed

Cucumbers need a lot of warmth, and grow best outside in a warm location protected from the wind. In order to prepare the bed optimally for sowing out cucumbers, a trench approx. 40 cm wide is dug out in the centre of the bed. This is backfilled with compost and garden soil. The centre of the bed should then be raised to form an embankment, as the sun is then better able to heat the earth, and the cucumbers grow better.
Cucumbers like to have peas, beans, lettuce and celery growing in close proximity. They should not be planted close to tomatoes, radishes or cabbage plants.

Sowing out

The end of April is a good time for the cultivation of cucumbers in a cold frame or on the windowsill. It is preferable to choose varieties which are resistant to mildew when selecting your seeds. Always plant only a few seeds in a little pot, making sure that water can drain off easily. It is best to select a pot with a hole in the bottom and to lay a flat stone onto the hole. Water the pots in a warm room regularly with water. Once the seeds have started to grow, it is essential that they stand in a well-lit location.
Because cucumbers, similar to tomatoes, are highly sensitive to frost, they should not be planted out until day temperatures at ground level rise to at least 15 degrees Celsius. For further protection, non-woven garden covers or slit foil can be used.
After the Frost Saints in May, cucumbers can also be sowed directly outside.

Cutting back cucumbers

Cutting back cucumbers helps the plants to grow and improves the quality of the vegetables. The main shoot should not be cut back. Cut the side shoots back to approximately three leaves.

Harvest

Salad cucumbers can be harvested approximately two weeks after flowering. Cut the cucumber at the stem using a sharp knife. When harvesting, the cucumber should have a smooth skin and an even green colour. Harvest the growing cucumbers before they are completely grown. They will taste better then; the seeds which may prove irritating as you eat are still small, and the overall yield will be larger due to early harvesting, because this promotes further flowering. If there are lighter patches on the skin of the cucumber, it may mean in fully-grown cucumbers that they are ripe or overripe. The harvesting time for salad cucumbers is from June through to October.

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