New World Little Gardens

cucumber pattern
cucumber

Cucumber

Cucumis sativus

These ‘Marketer’ cucumbers are perfect for salads and sandwiches. They will thrive in a sunny and sheltered spot. Cucumbers hate the cold so start your plants inside, and don’t move into the garden until Labour Weekend at the earliest.

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Getting started

  • Put the soil tablet on a saucer and pour 50ml of water over it.
  • Put on gloves and mix the water into the soil with your hands to make a wet mixture. Watch the soil expand.
  • Use most of your soil to fill up the pot to around 2cm below the top.
  • Carefully tear open the sachet and place the seeds on top of the soil (take care not to press down too hard).
  • Now use the rest of your soil mixture to cover the seed mat.
  • Remember to wash your hands when you’re done!

How to keep your Little Garden healthy

  • Place the pot on a clean saucer in a place with enough light, but not directly in the sun.
  • Check the soil in the morning, and before bed. If the soil feels dry and crumbly, pour a small amount of clean water over the surface.
  • Within 1-2 weeks you should see a little plant appear from the soil. That means the seeds have germinated and will be ready soon to move into a bigger pot or garden.
  • If more than one little plant grows, you can thin your cucumber seedling by choosing the strongest-looking one and removing the others.

When your seedling is ready to go in the garden

  • When your plant has 2-3 sets of true leaves (after 2-3 weeks), it’s ready to shift into the garden, but only if the weather is reliably settled and warm (no risk of frost).
  • Get your cucumber used to life outside: You can harden off your cucumber seedling by putting it in a warm and sheltered spot for 1-2 hours a day and return inside for the night. Do this for 4-5 days, leaving it outside for a little longer each day before you shift it out into the garden forever.

Planting best practice

  • Cucumbers are heavy feeders so give your cucumber full sun and a really rich soil: dig through some compost and sheep pellets a few weeks before planting.
  • Cucumber is a sprawling plant that needs a lot of space, so keep it at the edge of your vege bed and keep moving the vine over the side so it doesn’t overwhelm crops growing nearby.
  • Cucumber can grow next to your compost heap or at the base of a wall or trellis. It will climb with some encouragement (pick up and drape the vine towards the wall – eventually it should attach itself and start growing upwards).

Look after your plant while it’s growing

  • Water regularly while the plant is setting fruit: water only at the base of the stem and avoid wetting the leaves as this can spread fungal infections such as downy mildew or powdery mildew.
  • When the vine is about 50cm long, you can thin your cucumber by pinching off the growing tip to encourage more of the fruit-bearing side shoots to grow.

Harvest time

  • Your cucumber should start producing fruit about 2-3 months after you plant it outside.
  • Pick cucumbers as soon as they are of an edible size (15-20cm long) to encourage new growth.

Watch out

  • Cucumbers are commonly affected by downy mildew, a fungal infection that causes a grey film on the leaves. If you notice this, remove affected leaves and spray the plant weekly with a milk and baking soda spray.
  • Downy mildew is likely to occur under hot and humid conditions, so give your plants good air circulation.
  • Young plants can become infested by aphids, so check for these pests frequently: squash them with your fingers or blast them off with the hose as soon as you see them. Don’t let these guys get comfy on your plants.

Cucumber in your gardens