Sow and grow salad cucumbers
Cucumbers come in two types: field cucumbers and salad cucumbers, which are grown exclusively in the greenhouse. Read about the things you need to consider when growing salad cucumbers.
Salad cucumbers have a thin, smooth skin and develop tender kernels. Modern varieties produce only female plants. They were specially developed for the greenhouse or for outdoor cultivation and do not need to be pollinated for fruiting. These so-called virgin fruit varieties usually have only a few, tender seeds. Some varieties do not have bitter substances and are even powdery mildew resistant. In addition to the virgin fruit varieties,, there are also cucumber varieties that rely on mixed-flower pollinators, i.e. male flowers, in order to develop fruits.
In addition to seeds, grafted young cucumber plants are also available from specialist garden shops. Pumpkin seedlings serve as grafting base. Their advantage: The strong and robust roots are resistant to fungal diseases and provide the salad cucumbers reliably with water and nutrients.
You can sow salad cucumbers in the heated greenhouse from around mid-March. You should also prefer salad cucumbers for outdoor cultivation in the greenhouse, on the windowsill or in the cold frame - but not before mid-April, so that the young plants do not become too big before they are transplanted into the garden bed. Two to three seeds are placed in each pot and covered with soil finger deep. Incidentally, the pots should only be half filled with potting soil for sowing. To germinate quickly, the seeds need a minimum temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit and must be kept evenly moist. As soon as the leaves of the strongest seedling look clearly over the edge of the pot, the weaker ones are removed and the pot filled with additional soil - this has the effect that the cucumber seedling forms adventitious roots at the bottom of the stem and takes root better overall.
From a height of 9.84 inches, the young cucumber plants are moved to their final location in the greenhouse at a distance of at least 23.62 inches. There should be a gap of four years if the salad cucumbers are to be planted in the same place. In order to avoid changing the soil, they are best placed in large pots or directly in substrate bags in the greenhouse. After the season, the soil should either be added the compost or distributed in the garden. If the young cucumber plants are planted in the garden or greenhouse bed, you should enrich them beforehand with compost and rotten cow dung. The often recommended planting on small mounds of earth is not absolutely necessary, but it makes sense to pile up the stem base after planting so that the cucumber plants form several adventitious roots.
Cords on the roof construction of the greenhouse serve as a climbing aid for the cucumber plants and are laid in a spiral around the stems and these are repeatedly wound as they grow. As soon as the shoot has reached the roof, the tip is cut off. All side shoots must be cut off shortly after the first blossom, otherwise a jungle will emerge in a very short time. The side shoots are completely removed up to a height of about 23.62 inches so that the cucumbers do not lie on the ground.
For field cultivation, the young cucumber plants are placed in the prepared garden bed from May 15, also 23.62 inches apart. A vertically erected reinforcement mat is a reliable climbing aid in the open air. You can also sow salad cucumbers directly in the garden bed for field cultivation, but the harvest then shifts relatively far into late summer.
When cultivating in a greenhouse, make sure that the location is not too sunny. You can either use shade nets or use other plants such as as shade providers. On the other hand, salad cucumbers for field cultivation need a warm and full sun, preferably sheltered from the wind.
When cucumber plants suffer from drought, the salad cucumbers turn bitter very quickly. If possible, you should only water with preheated water in the greenhouse, for example from a rain barrel. A mulch layer made of organic material such as lawn clippings prevents excessive evaporation and thus premature drying of the soil underneath. As soon as fruits appear on the plants, you can use liquid fertilizer every two weeks. During the growing season, the humidity of the air should be increased on hot days by spraying water on the soil. Ideally, the humidity should be maintained at 60 percent and should not drop too much, otherwise the young cucumbers will be shed off.
When cultivating outdoors, watch out for snails that like to eat young cucumber seedlings. Whiteflies and spider mites can also be found in the greenhouse. In late summer, cucumbers are often damaged by powdery mildew fungi. To avoid this disease, you should occasionally pollinate the plants with environmentally friendly wettable sulfur and ensure adequate air exchange in the greenhouse. Also make sure that the leaves stay as dry as possible when watering.
In two weeks after flowering - with early sowing and cultivation in the greenhouse from the end of May - the first salad cucumbers are ready to be harvested. In the open you have to wait for the first harvest, in the case of mature plants until around mid-July. In terms of taste, salad cucumbers are the best when they have not yet reached the size of supermarket cucumbers. As soon as they turn yellow, the optimal stage of ripeness has passed. Overripe fruits should be removed from the plant immediately so as not to weaken them unnecessarily. Ideally, you can harvest fresh cucumbers twice a week till the end of September.