Growing Outdoor Cucumbers on the Allotment
Not got a greenhouse to grow proper long, smooth cues? How about trying an outdoor ridged variety?
I’ve just harvested my first outdoor cucumber for this season, having started the seed off back in April.
I started growing outdoor cucumbers on my first allotment, when I didn’t have a greenhouse. They were a roaring success, and they’ve been one of the first seeds down on my growing list ever since.
Pick The Cues Small
Essentially they’re big gherkins, and share the same rough skins but the idea is not to let them grow to the same size as the cucumbers you’d find in the shops. I pick mine when they’re about 6 inches long, or half the length of a conventional cucumber.
Bush varieties are available, but I prefer the trailing vine types, such as the tremendously named Burpless Tasty Green. This variety can trail to almost 3 metres, and makes for an attractive spectacle in a veg bed.
Grow Upwards or Let them Trail
You can grow them upwards, training the vine against a net or structure or let the plant take its natural course along the ground. I plant the cucumbers in the corners of my raised beds, and then guide them to wear I want them as the vines begin to sprawl. I sometimes use little sticks to help with this, especially if I’m trying to trail them around my pathways.
How To Grow Cue Plants
The seeds do need a temperature of above 20 degree to germinate. I grew seedlings in pots in my greenhouse, but you could easily do this on a sunny windowsill or under a coldframe.
Once the seedlings are ready to go out, the cues will happily grow in temperatures around 15 degrees so make great alternatives if you don’t have a space under glass.
I plant out in a recess (like my squashes) so water stays in and around the plant where it’s needed. This also helps me water underneath the leaves rather than on top of them.
Like squashes, it can be worth putting straw under the fruits to stop rotting and colouration. A small handful, just to keep the fruit off the surface is perfect. I’ve found the slugs stay away too – I’m guessing they don’t like the coarseness of the straw.
Each plant should give you 10 or so fruits during the summer, especially if you water regularly. Once the season is over, try pickling any small fruits left on the plants as they’ll make a nice Winter gherkin treat.
Only one little word of warning though – don’t expect beautifully straight and smooth specimens. These cues are a little like proper cucumbers ugly sister. Don’t be put off though; they taste every bit as good.