“I love eating cucumbers that I’ve organically grown,
Not the chemicalized ones, that others have sown”
This no-fuss fruiting veggie comes in many varieties. But with all varieties, its speed of growth and lushness of produce make it a very satisfying plant to add to your urban farm!
SEASONS: Cucumber is a seasonal plant. While it enjoys hot weather, it will grow just as readily during the monsoons, and will give fruit as long as it has a plentiful supply of nutrients and water.
PROPAGATING: Cucumber is easy to propagate by seed. Buy cucumber seeds from your garden shop, or prepare your cucumber seeds from scratch. Scoop out the soft center of the fully ripened cucumber with its seeds, spread on a rack, and leave to dry, preferably in the hot sun. It may take several days for thorough drying, depending on the size and thickness of the seed. During the drying period, brush off dried pulp residue around the seeds. Once the seeds are dry, store in a brown paper bag in a cool, dark place.
GERMINATING: Germinate your seeds in February for a harvest through summer and the monsoons, or germinate during the monsoons for a harvest through December. Cucumber is best germinated directly in the soil as it is a no-fuss seed. Seeds can be sown in 1 inch deep holes and 12 inches apart in soft, moisture-retaining, acidic and nutrient-rich, well-composted, heavily-manured soil. Place in semi-shade and water daily, ensuring that seeds do not dry out, and until seedlings emerge in 5-7 days.
PLANTING OUT: Move out your saplings to direct sun once they are sturdier at 2 weeks of growth, or as their first true leaves appear. They also need plenty of space and something to climb on, so plant near a trellis or window grill for vertical growth. Cucumbers grow well on open plots and in very large (20 liter+) containers.
NURTURING: Your cucumber plants will grow very rapidly with the rising temperatures and humidity of March/April/May (first season) or July/August/September (second season). The availability of plentiful water for this water loving veggie, will ensure that it will keep growing through the monsoons, and even if some flowers are lost to downpours, enough will survive for pollination and fruiting. This plant is a heavy feeder so replenish compost and manure whenever needed and place mulch around the soil to reduce evaporation. Water deeply each day, and twice a day in peak summer. Train its growth along the trellis and keep pruning off yellowing branches and dead leaves to strengthen growth of the plant.
HARVESTING: Harvest your cucumbers when tender on the vine. Your plants will produce for the entire season (4-5 months). When productivity declines at end of season, uproot, compost, replenish your soil and use that space for growing leafing or rooting veggies next.
A sprawling cucumber plant growing over a rope trellis during the Mumbai monsoons
Cucumber fruit and flower – beautiful to behold!
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