You might have guessed from the headline of this post that my first attempt to grow cucumbers hasn’t exactly gone swimmingly.
It all began well. I was excited to see the seedlings emerge and grow. They looked healthy and grew well once transplanted into their larger pots. I put them outside for the first few months, given the lovely weather we were having and they soon produced flowers.
I was thrilled by my prowess by this stage. So far, so good. The day I noticed tiny cucumbers starting to grow was truly exciting. Even Nigel raised an impressed eyebrow.
My first inkling that all might not end well came midway through the summer. I was running a Freelge ‘Grow Your Own’ stall at B&Q in Penrith, and got talking about my cucumbers to one of the passers-by, who happened to be an experienced grower.
“Oh, I think it’s too late in the season for cucumbers,” she told me. “You want to have had them planted long before you did.”
Oh dear. My next clue was from an expert, Lynn Barnes of Vista Veg. I was at the polytunnel site taking a few photos of a public visit during Eden Food & Farming Festival, and I mentioned my cucumbers while admiring her rows of veg-laden plants. She didn’t sound hopeful about the chances of my cucumbers doing well outside, warning that they’d be very slow to come on.
So, I went home and brought them into the conservatory-cum-workshop. And I think it all went downhill from there. They grew, but more fat than long, and started to go a bit yellow and soft. Concluding that they’d probably done all the growing they were going to do, I picked a few.
I had my salad all ready, the day I decided to finally eat the fruits of my labour. Slicing one of the cucumbers, it looked the part. The excitement mounted as I took a bite, and euughh! It was like sucking a lemon. My anticipation turned to disappointment. What had gone wrong?
After a quick Google, it appears I broke most of the golden rules of growing cucumbers. They apparently are prone to bitterness if you don’t water them evenly, if the temperature fluctuates a lot and if it’s too hot.
This site has a good summary:
Watering: Yes, OK… I admit it. I didn’t water the cucumbers regularly enough and did allow them to dry out too much.
Heat: Yes, hold my hands up to this one, too. In the hot sun, our conservatory-cum-workshop becomes the Sahara.
Temperature fluctuation: And, at night it’s Siberia.
But, I have learnt by experience. I now know something about where I went wrong and feel better equipped to have another go next year. Every day’s a school day, as they say.