Gar­den Cal­en­dar

- jobs for Oc­to­ber - 10 tips for grow­ing cu­cum­bers

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents -

(rather than along the ground) will give you more fruit – in some cases 2-3 times more – and re­duces the risk of dis­ease from soil and in­sects.

Cu­cum­bers can be round, oval or sausage-shaped; short, fat, long or skinny; green, yel­low or white.

They can even be golden brown, like the In­dian heir­loom va­ri­ety, Poona Kheera, now avail­able from Kings Seeds.

Flavours may be sweet or bit­ter. ‘Bur­p­less’ va­ri­eties con­tain low or no cu­cur­bitacin. This com­pound causes bit­ter­ness and in­creases your sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to burp­ing after eat­ing them (says the Burpee seed cat­a­logue).

There are two ba­sic cu­cum­ber types: slicers and pick­lers. The slicers are typ­i­cally eaten fresh, although you can make pick­les from them too, such as the fa­mous bread and but­ter pick­les. Pick­ling va­ri­eties, or gherkins, tend to be shorter and have a bumpy skin. They also have smaller and fewer seeds.

All cu­cum­bers, no mat­ter their size, shape or colour, have sim­i­lar likes and dis­likes in the gar­den. •

Choose an area in full sun and dig it over deeply. Cu­cum­bers are deep­rooted, so the deeper you dig to loosen the soil, the bet­ter.

• Add plenty of com­post and fer­tiliser. •

If your soil is acidic, adding lime might be worth­while, although it’s best ap­plied to soil one sea­son be­fore you want to plant. •

Avoid plant­ing your cu­cum­bers in an area where cu­cur­bit fam­ily mem­bers (cu­cum­bers, zuc­chini, pump­kins, mel­ons) grew the pre­vi­ous year as dis­eases may carry over from one year to the next. •

Cu­cum­bers grow as vines, so you can grow them up te­pees or trel­lis, or trail them along the ground. •

Cu­cum­bers are warm-sea­son crops and don’t like frost. Don’t plant out seedlings un­til after frosts have fin­ished. •

Seeds won’t ger­mi­nate in soil that’s be­low 10°C. Speedy ger­mi­na­tion takes place when soil tem­per­a­tures are around 15°C.

If your soil is still on the cool side, plant in con­tain­ers for trans­plant­ing later. •

Ideal tem­per­a­ture for growth and devel­op­ment is around 18-24°C. Growth is checked when tem­per­a­tures dip be­low 16°C, so use a cloche in the early stages, or lay a mulch of black plas­tic to warm the soil. •

Make sure you wa­ter and feed plants well dur­ing the grow­ing sea­son. A reg­u­lar wa­ter­ing regime can mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween an ok-crop and an amaz­ing one. Whip off the black plas­tic in sum­mer and ap­ply an or­ganic mulch to help re­tain mois­ture. •

As your plants grow, prune the lat­eral shoots near the base to pro­mote a higher yield. Trim the first 4-6 shoots then leave any­thing above this to grow.

There are two ba­sic types of cu­cum­ber: slicers and pick­lers

Jane Wrig­glesworth is a gar­den­ing writer, blog­ger, and pub­lisher of the dig­i­tal magazine, Sweet Liv­ing. www.sweet­liv­ing­magazine.co.nz www.flam­ing­petal.co.nz

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