How to grow greenhouse cucumbers -

If you want to produce the best crop of cucumbers possible then you can't do better than buying a good quality greenhouse-specific cultivars and growing them in a greenhouse. Greenhouse-specific cucumber cultivars produce long, smooth fruits similar to those that you find in the supermarkets, but with two marked differences. Both the texture and the flavour will be far superior.

Growing cucumbers from seed

Growing cucumbers from seed
To begin with, sow cucumber seed on their sides at a depth of ½ inch in 3 inch pots containing a good quality, free-draining compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting'. Gently water, then place the pots in a propagator or seal them inside a plastic bag at a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius until they germinate. You can expect to see the seedlings emerge in about 7-10 days.

Once they have germinated the seedlings can come out of the propagator/sealed bag and can be moved to a bright windowsill, but not in direct sunlight as the leaves can scorch. At this point try to maintain a minimum temperature of 15 degrees Celsius, and keep the compost on the moist side however avoid water-logging as this will easily kill the roots. Once the young plants are large enough to be transplanted they can be moved to their final position, be it a grow bag or in the soil of the greenhouse. Try to avoid disturbing the roots at this point as the Cucumbers plants can go into shock (known as root-shock) and may take a couple of weeks before they start growing again.

In the greenhouse

Cucumber greenhouse
Pot grown cucumbers will need to be planted in a warm, humid greenhouse that is kept at a temperature of at least 15 degrees Celsius. Plant them at a spacing of 2 plants per grow bag or 18 inches apart if they are being grown directly into the soil.

As before, cucumber will need protection from direct sun to prevent scorching and this can be achieved by providing shading either as lengths of material or as a 'paint' applied directly to the glass. Keep the conditions humid by regularly spraying or damping down the pathways.

Male flowers will need to be removed as soon as you see them to prevent the plants energy from being directly away from fruit production. Female cucumber flowers are easily distinguished from male flowers as they have a swollen bulge between the bottom of the flower and the flower stem which will look like a miniature cucumber. Male flowers will just have a plain stalk. To make life easier you can always purchase ‘all female’ F1 hybrid varieties which will only produce female flowers.

Cucumber harvest
Keep the plants well watered to help them establish and to increase crop yields. Cucumber plants will need to be fed with a high potash feed every two weeks once the fruits begin to develop. You can further improve yield by encouraging your plants to climb upwards. Train the main shoots onto 6ft canes or strings until they reach the top of their support. At this point pinch out the growing point at the top of the plant. Once the cucumber fruit begins to develop, pinch out the end of each side shoots, leaving two leaves after each fruit. This will help to encourage more sides-hoots which in turn will produce a bigger crop of cucumbers.

You should be able to harvest you first crop of cucumbers approximately 12 weeks after they were sown. They should be picked first thing in the morning when temperatures remain cool. Cut the fruits from the stem using a sharp blade. Timing is important as it is best to pick cucumbers while they are young and tender, and before they show signs of producing seeds. This is because older fruits can become bitter, and a mouth full of seeds can make eating it unpalatable.

If you continue to harvest your cucumber regularly then you can expect them to crop well into October if temperatures remain warm enough.

For related articles click onto the following links:
Cucumber 'Long White' Seeds
How to Grow Outdoor Cucumbers

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