The Divine Vine
Good Organic Gardening|September - October 2021
Fruit or veg? Whatever it is, without a cucumber a salad is just uncool
Jennifer Stackhouse

Cucumber label

Common name: Cucumber

Botanical name: Cucumis satavis

Family: Cucurbitaceae (cucumber family)

Aspect & soil: Sun to light afternoon shade (warm climates only); well-drained soil

Best climate: All

Habit: Annual vine

Propagation: Seed, seedling

Difficulty: Easy

Although cucumbers grow on a vine, they can be planted in any size vegetable garden. These large climbers will even grow happily up a tripod in a large pot.

Whether you plant in the garden or a container, manage their growth by training the vine up tall stakes or a tepee or along a trellis to keep fruit off the ground.

In cool climates with a short growing season, managing the size of the vine is important so the plant can put its energy into fruiting and flowering. Tip-prune the vine after it produces six or so nodes.

Although the vines need full sun to do well, they can get too much of a good thing in hot climates, where they’ll do best with shelter from the hot afternoon sun to reduce sunscald and water stress.

GROWING

Cucumbers grow from large seeds direct sown into a garden bed or a large container in spring or early summer.

If temperatures are cool, start seeds off in punnets then move them into the garden or a larger pot as they grow and the weather warms.

In a garden bed, space plants or direct sow seeds 40–60cm apart beside a stake or trellis. In a container, sow one vine per pot or, if the pot is larger, plant one seed at the base of each leg of the tepee. Encourage young plants to climb on to the stake or climbing frame.

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