Whether you are growing cucumbers for salad or pickling, there are many varieties including bush-type and vine-type. This article tells you which type of cucumber to select, and how to plant, care and harvest them.
Growing cucumbers at a glance
Cucumbers need dry, hot summer weather. They require a sunny location, with well-drained rich soil, moderate to high in organic matter (see also Soil).
The two main types of cucumbers are slicer/salad cucumbers and pickle cucumbers. Depending on the variety, the days to maturity range from 50 to 70 days. Cucumbers come in bush-type and vine-type varieties. Bush-types are suitable for container growing and smaller gardens. Vine-type varieties spread 2 to 3 metres in each direction but can be trellised to save space.
One to two cucumber plants at a time are sufficient for a family of four. Planting the same number of plants again in mid-summer will provide a constant supply of cucumbers all summer.
Not every flower produces a cucumber, only the female flowers do. Usually the first 10 to 20 flowers on a plant are male. To produce fruit, pollination from male to female flowers is required. However, there are newer seedless hybrids with only female flowers, where no pollinator is needed. Rainy weather, when bees are inactive, leads to poor pollination and will decrease your harvest.
As a member of the squash / melon family, cucumbers should not be grown where melon, pumpkin, summer squash, watermelon, winter squash or courgette were grown the year before.