Homeschool Garden Club - Cucumbers
Our next crop to be sown is outdoor cucumbers. Like their name suggest they are grown outdoors, so no need for fancy equipment. Easy for us home schoolers to achieve a nice crop, if you choose special ‘outside’ seeds you don’t need a greenhouse. They will taste better than anything you can buy in a shop, as we found out last year here at the Orchard Training Homeschool Garden Club. Outdoor grown cucumbers won’t look as long and smooth as supermarket ones. One variety we grew last year was very spiky and prickly to harvest.
Although, I do have a confession – Last year, I pickled some small cucumbers to make gherkins. The Orchard Training Cookery Club was still in the experimental phase of finding the right pickle recipe. We were making small batches testing out different vegetables, vinegars and spices. The jar of gherkins I opened up this week was basically – there is no getting around it – just awful!
Ok! So, that recipe will not be used again. A couple of lovely home grown cucumbers have sadly been wasted, but we have learnt something along the way. Sometimes, we have to face the fact that the process of learning something, and what we have actually learnt from the failure is far more important than the end product or the lesson's desired aim.
With this in mind, cucumbers are really fun and easy to grow – you can plant them in containers or grow them in the ground.
Why Should You Grow and Eat Them?
Cucumbers are a low calorie juicy snack that can also help to keep you hydrated. With these lovely vitamins, already in them cucumbers are a super healthy snack.
Vitamin K: Helps your blood to clot if you have an accident.
Beta carotene: An antioxidant for healthy skin and eyes.
Calcium: Helps build strong bones and strong heart muscles.
What to Grow
We have some suggestions from our friends at the National Vegetable Society
Popular outdoor cucumbers: ‘Jogger’
Medium size without many seeds: ‘Goblin’
Crunchy, snack size fruits: ‘Cetriolo Marketer’
Lots of medium size fruits: ‘Diva’
Mini juicy fruits: ‘Mini Muncher F1’ and ‘Merlin’
What you’ll need:
Outdoor cucumber seeds
7.5 cm seed sowing pots
Large container filled with multipurpose compost or some outside space.
Sow Your Cucumber Seeds
1. Fill your little pots with seed compost.
2. Make a hole in the soil about 1cm deep.
3. Drop a seed into the hole, lying on its side, and cover with soil.
4. Arrange your pots on a tray and put them in a sealed plastic bag.
5. Leave them somewhere warm, but not directly in the sun.
6. Keep the soil moist. Shoots will appear in 7-10 days.
7. Take the bag off and move your pots to a bright windowsill that’s not directly in the sun.
Move Your Seedlings Outside
1. Fill a container with compost and put it in a sunny place.
2. Help your seedlings get used to their new home before you plant them! Take them outside every day for a week, but remember to bring them in at night.
3. Make a hole in the soil and plant the seedling. Don’t touch the roots.
4. Check your cucumber every day and keep the soil moist.
5. When seven leaves have formed, gently cut off the top of the main stem. This is called “pinching out.”
6. The cucumber plants might start to grow in all directions and trail along the ground! You can tie them gently to canes if you want to.
Harvest and Eat!
Cucumber plants are very generous. When you pick the fruit, they will keep growing more!
If you pick your cucumbers before they get too big they will be juicy and sweet.
Your cucumber plants can produce fruit from June to October.