OUTDOOR CUCUMBER VARIETIES
Article by David Marks
This is our independent review page of all the popular outdoor cucumber varieties currently available in the UK. The vast majority of outdoor / ridge cucumber varieties sold in the UK produce both male and female flowers. Only the female flowers go on to produce cucumbers. Unless the seed packet says otherwise there is no need to remove the male flowers which grow during the season.
This an outdoor variety which has been a favourite of UK gardeners for several years decades. It was first developed in 1968 at Cornell University, USA and was quickly a great success in Europe. Once established the plants are vigorous and disease resistant. This is an open pollinated variety and saved seeds will come true to type.
They are best suited to growing o utside although they can be grown under cover if pollination is not prevented. Leave all the flowers on, do not remove any of them. They are well suited to growing on the ground surface without any support. If slugs or other ground level predators are liable to eat the fruits the plants can equally well be grown up a support system. They will however need to be tied in.
The cucumbers are best picked when about 20cm / 8in long when the skin is not too thick and the centre is relatively firm. Leave them growing too long past that length and the skin toughens up and the centre can start to turn a bit mushy.
They are deep green, with a few bumps on them as the picture above shows. When sliced and served in a salad or sandwich the skin thickness is fine. Under most growing conditions the flesh is firm and has just the correct amount of liquid. Marketmore was first given an RHS AGM in 1995 and retains that award to date.
Marketmore cucumbers are one of the few outdoor varieties of cucumber which does does not need support. For this reason they are far more popular and easily found compared to other outdoor varieties.
Another outdoor variety which has been awarded an RHS AGM. The cucumbers are smoother and thinner compared to other outdoor ridge cucumbers. The skin is lightly ridges and dark green. Harvest them when they reach 30cm / 12in long for the best flavour and texture.
Tokyo Slicer is an F1 variety and seeds saved will not come true to type. They are best supported whilst growing to keep the fruits off the ground and increase the yield. Leave all the flowers on, do not remove any of them. This variety is only sold by a few seed companies in the UK and looks likely to be very difficult to find in a year or so.
This British bred variety is an outdoor climber and will need support. The fruits are deep green, slightly spiny but tasty. Harvest when the cucumbers are 15cm / 6in long to avoid them turning bitter. This is an open pollinated variety and saved seed will come true to type. Not commonly available in the UK.
In our view this variety can give Marketmore a run for its money as far as taste and texture are concerned.
The cucumbers should be harvested when the are 15cm / 6in long. They are dark green, one of the smoothest of all the outdoor / ridge cucumbers and their small size makes them ideal for salads. They also have the best texture and are seedless. The disadvantage is that they definitely need to be grown up supports.
La Diva cucumbers
La Diva is an F1 variety so saved seeds will not grow true to type. It is classified as an "all-female" variety so no male flowers should be produced. If you do notice any male flowers, pinch them off to avoid them fertilising female flowers and preventing bitter cucumbers from growing. Seeds are readily available in the UK.
An F1 variety which is normally sold as a grafted cucumber. We are not normally im favour of grafted vegetable plants but this cucumber exceeded our expectations. We tested this variety in 2021 and we recommend it highly.
Harvest these cucumbers when are about 20cm / 8in long and they will be full of flavour and texture. If they are harvested regularly they are hugely productive and one plant will be sufficient for two people from July to late September. Highly recommended
If full sized cucumbers are rarely finished in your household then the Petita cucumber variety is probably the
answer. They are best harvested when about 25c / 6in long.
and texture are a delight, full of flavour, and the skin is the smoothest and thinnest of all the ridge cucumbers we have tasted. The size is just right as well for sandwiches or salads over a couple of days. This really is a huge improvement over shop bought cucumbers.
It produces masses of cucumbers, two plants had us giving many away to the local volunteer run shop. As far as caring for it, make sure that there is sufficient water and that’s it. Forget trimming it up, just let it go,
and “go” it really does! No need for supports, it is quite happy scrambling over the soil surface.