So my friend was asking me the other day about Cucumbers, so thought I’d write a quick post.
Keeping in mind, my suggestions are for small gardens and saving space, so there might be other ways where you will get higher yields, and this is my experience in a sub-tropical climate.
When to plant
Now is the time to plant them (Spring through to Late Summer), but don’t worry if you have no space, we’ve got all summer to plant them, we put some in as seeds in January last year and still got a bumper crop.
Where to put them
I normally put them next to a trellis and grow them up similar to climbing beans or peas, noting that they don’t naturally have that climbing ability so you have to train them to go up. They do spread so if you don’t have them on a trellis be prepared for them to take over, and be careful that the ground isn’t too wet that the fruit don’t rot.
They go good next to plants that don’t take as much food from the soil – so roots (radishes, beets, carrots) & legumes (peas, beans).
How many to plant
Last year we planted 4 plants and had excess for 2 adults, if you don’t eat loads of salads and aren’t interested in getting creative with the excess than 2 plants will probably be enough for 2 adults.
How to care for your cucumbers
They need loads of water so remember to mulch and fertilise them once they start flowering.
I found they survive pretty well through summer in QLD but towards the end of summer I have had issues with bugs (like most things in south east QLD). Mostly aphids which you can keep under control by either planting loads of plants to bring in the beneficial insects, or use either eco oil or make your own spray with diluted dishwashing liquid.
Another common issue we face in humid climates is powdery mildew. You’ll see this as a white powder on the leaves, or you’ll probably first notice it when little yellow ladybugs come to visit. The little yellow ones are good ones, but it does mean you have an issue. If you don’t get this under control quickly it will destroy your plant. Some people recommend milk or whey, or you can try an eco fungicide.
I’ve found the best solution is to avoid it in the first place, make sure you don’t water your leaves and allow plenty of airflow on your plants.
I have ALWAYS had issues with them not growing due to the lack of pollinators (aka bees) so you’ll often find me out first thing in the morning jamming the male flower in the female flower. Sexy huh. The female flower has the baby cuc beneath the flower. If I don’t do this the little cuc wont get any bigger than 1cm long and just drop off.
Types of cucumbers to plant
My favourite are the lebanese variety, but there are some super cool ones around that you should give a go (the white apple ones are quite prolific). I don’t like the burpless ones as I am lazy and don’t like peeling the tough skin.
What do do with them
Well obviously eat them. Got too many? We generally eat them all in summer as we love our salads but occasionally you get about 4 ready at once and you’re all cucumbered out! Firstly, gift them – people love free food. If you still have too many a couple ideas – greek salad, dill pickles or chuck them in a green smoothie for some extra freshness.
This year we’re trialling them in the Aquaponics, hoping they will cascade downwards from the grow bed which will shade the fish tank. Fingers crossed!