Monday, 7 May 2012

The info on sowing cucumbers

the article in Amateur Gardening
I know lots of people are rearing to go when March arrives so they sow cucumbers, pumpkins, courgettes, frost tender beans, and sunflowers early to get a head start. Madness people, absolute madness! These are all aggressive, fast growing, huge plants with insatiable appetites and yet vulnerable to frost, so unless you have a tunnel or a big glasshouse cool your heels and wait until the end of April or the beginning of May. I sowed mine last Sunday week and they were up by last Thursday.That's plenty of time to get them started!

It's nice when you are an opinionated, pain in the arse like me to see someone else agree with you, especially a well known gardener putting it in print! Charles Dowding, hero of no-dig wrote a great article on sowing cucumbers in the Amateur Gardening Magazine dated the week of 21 April. Apart from us agreeing on the timing of the sowing i.e. Now! I learnt a lot about how to handle them after they germinate, answering questions about where I have gone wrong in the past. I love this type of practical how-to article. The more I read of his writing the more I like it. At the moment I have downloaded his book "organic gardening" on kindle and I'm riveted to it. No-dig is where I am going this year and his arguments are compelling if you needed any convincing-but I don't! Highly, highly recommend it.

Anyway here is the lowdown on cucumbers from the article, hope it helps those of you getting to grips with sowing and successfully growing them;

Cucumber seedlings heading out for a day of sun this morning

  • Sow the seedlings in small pots or cells and put them on a propagator, they need 20-30c to germinate. They grow better with company so set a few seeds together.

  • Keep them warm after they germinate. Mine are out in the warmest part of the coldframe by day and back indoors at night. C.D. says they need 12-25c pretty constantly while growing.

  • Avoid over watering young plants-the lower stems and roots can rot very easily, wait for the compost to dry out a bit before you water them. Rotting is most likely in dull weather.

  • After a few weeks transplant them into slightly larger pots, making sure they have lots of roots. You can bury the stems up to and including the lower leaves in the new pot of compost to encourage more root development.

One last thing to think about. In the article he talks about how plants do much better when they have other plants for company, citing an experiment he did growing Brussels sprouts with lettuce plants between them. I think its a good way to use beds to the maxium too, an idea you are sure to come to with pressure for space in your garden.

The organic gardening book on kindle is here amazon

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