10 COOL CUCUMBERS
1 TOP CROPPER: ‘ IZNIK’
This F1 hybrid costs $1 per seed but is worth every cent when you consider that you’ll pay at least 50c each for these cocktail sausage-sized snack cucumbers at the supermarket. Prolific fruiters, they bear up to a dozen seedless 10cm long cucumbers at any one time, and they keep on coming all summer long. Train the vines over trellis or a teepee for easy harvesting. Note: I didn’t water my cucumber trial bed, so the shapes of the fruit on this page is a depiction of what cucumbers can look like under average home garden conditions! Bulbous bottoms form when very heavy rain follows a period of dry weather. From Kings Seeds, Egmont Seeds, or as potted grafted plants in garden centres.
2 ‘ SALT AND PEPPER’
Billed as a mildew-resistant white pickling cucumber, I was taken aback to find these buttery fruit at the back of my trial bed. As a rule, golden cucumbers are overripe (with the exception of ’Lemon‘). To save your own seed, leave cucumbers on the vine until they are sunshine-yellow.
3 ‘ LEBANESE’
Why would you grow tough-skinned ‘Telegraphs’ when ‘Lebanese’ cucumbers can be eaten skin and all? This is my go-to variety for cucumber sandwiches. Kings Seeds, Egmont Seeds, Yates Seeds.
4 ‘ POONA KHEERA’
Did you know cucumbers are native to India? This unusual heirloom is both heat-resistant outdoors and fridge-tolerant indoors, thanks to its rough brown skin which stops the flesh losing water and softening post-harvest. With thick white flesh around a small seed cavity, it’s ideal in salads or as sticks for dips. Kings Seeds.
5 ‘ GREEN APPLE’
This Kiwi heirloom is so much nicer than ‘Crystal Apple’, my least favourite variety of all time! If your apple cucumbers are horribly bitter, cut off their tops or peel the skins as that’s where the cucurbitacins are concentrated. Koanga Seeds.
6 ‘ HOMEMADE PICKLES’
Vigorous, heavy-yielding gherkins for pickling. Pick when 5-8cm long to pack into jars whole. 'Eureka' (Egmont Seeds) is another great gherkin. Kings Seeds.
7 ‘ TASTY QUEEN’
For fans of long cucumbers, this has heaps of slender, 20cm, burpless fruit. Ideal to train up strings in a glasshouse. Kings Seeds, Egmont Seeds, Yates Seeds.
8 ‘ ORIENTAL SOO YOH’
These twisted sisters, with their distinctive coiled shape and ribbed skins, were among first to set fruit. Good flavour and flesh consistency. Kings Seeds.
9 ‘ DIVA’
A feminist cucumber! This F1 hybrid is sweet, seedless, fast to fruit, mildewresistant and 100 per cent a lady. ‘Diva’ is gynecious (every flower is a female) and parthenocarpic, so she doesn’t need a bloke – or pollinating bees – to get on with the job. Hugely productive. Kings Seeds.
10 ‘ SPACEMASTER’
Growing cucumbers in pots? This compact variety from Kings Seeds has 15-20cm long fruit and was one of the most productive in my trial, despite only just climbing to the top of its 1m string support. Also worth growing in containers are ‘Patio Snacker‘, from Egmont Seeds, and ‘Bushcrop‘, in the McGregor‘s range.
‘SALT AND PEPPER’