CARING FOR OUTDOOR CUCUMBERS
Watering is essential for a good crop of cucumbers if conditions become dry, weeding will also reduce water loss and competition for soil nutrients. You can erect mini-supports for ridge cucumbers but it’s not needed at all. Just let them grow where they want and they will do fine.
A two-weekly feed with abalanced fertiliser such as Growmore will help them along nicely. Some gardeners
mistakenly believe that, because the cucumber is fruit (it really is!), it does better if fed on a tomato type fertiliser which is higher in potassium than a balanced fertiliser but this is not the case.
Indeed, it is a misconception that fruit producing plants in general need large amounts of potassium. For example apples, plums, peaches, pears, cherries and several other fruit producing plants require more nitrogen than they do potassium but in the case of tomatoes they require a higher percentage of potassium.
Cucumbers need high levels of nutrients to produce of their very best and nitrogen is as important to them as other elements. Our experience has backed this up as well and we have researched what other informed and practiced organisations say about this matter.
Aside from the more commercial websites, some of whom have never grown their own cucumbers, we refer you to the following three well respected sites on this subject to back up our feeding recommendations:
- The RHS website who recommend “rake in 100g per square metre (3½ oz per 10¾ sq ft) of general purpose fertiliser” and later on “feed every 10-14 days with a balanced liquid fertiliser”
- The University of Illinois who recommend the following “side-dress with nitrogen fertilizer when the plants begin to vine”
- Cornell University who recommend “Cucumbers are heavy feeders and require fertile soil, nitrogen fertilizer, and/or additions of high-N organic matter sources.”
A mulch on the surrounding soil (but not touching the main stem) will conserve water and discourage weeds.
A small amount of pruning will encourage the early formation of outdoor cucumbers. The main stem will grow quickly once the plant is established – when it has grown eight sets of leaves pinch out the end of
the stem. This will force the plant to put growth into the side stems and this is where your cucumbers will form later on..The date given in the calendar at the top of this page for pruning is very approximate so keep a watch out for the formation of those leaves.
In general, the rule with outdoor ridge cucumbers is not to remove any of the flowers – both male and female flowers are needed for pollination with the help of bees. However recent advances in the varieties available include a couple of so called ridge cucumbers where the difference between them and greenhouse varieties has becoming blurred. Our advice is to read the seed packet instructions carefully just in case some flower removal is recommended.
The calendar at the top of this page gives an approximate date when you can expect harvest your ridge cucumbers but in reality, the best indicator of when to harvest is the size of the growing cucumbers. When they reach a length of 20 cm or so they are probably ready to harvest. Different varieties may differ slightly so read the instructions on the seed packet.
RECOMMENDED VARIETIES OF OUTDOOR RIDGE CUCUMBERS
There are several varieties of outdoor cucumbers available to the UK gardener from the established to the more modern varieties. Our review page has details of them all with their positive and negative points. Click here for an independent and unbiased review of the varieties available.
PESTS AND DISEASES OF RIDGE CUCUMBERS
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