How to grow...Cucumbers!

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Here is a quick guide to growing ...cucumbers.

Cucumbers have been around for thousands of years. First originating in India, then introduced to Ancient Greece and then Italy, where they were popular with the Romans. Now cucumbers are found all over the world. Over the many years the popular fruit has evolved into a much greener, longer and tastier fruit. 

Planting Out...

Indoor varieties should be planted in greenhouses during spring time when the temperatures start to rise and the chance of frost has passed.
Outdoor varieties should be planted when the soil has had a chance to warm.
For best results cucumber plants should be grown in compost, a well-rotted manure or a fertile soil.

Training the cucumber plant...

A stake or cane should be used to keep the plant growing upwards. This will help keep the cucumbers off the ground, keeping them clean and fresh.  As the plant grows upwards keep fixing the stem to the stake. Be careful not to tie it too tightly or the plant will become strangled.
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Female plants? Pinching Out? Removing Flowers...?

Many gardeners are confused when it comes to male and female flowers.
In nature, each plant will have male flowers and female flowers. Then, a bee will visit both and pollinate the flowers to produce a delicious cucumber.  The visual difference between male and female flowers is that the female flower will have a tiny cucumber behind it, and the male flower will just have a stem. A male  will never produce fruit.

Indoor/greenhouse varieties do not need pollinating or the fruits can become bitter. So male flowers should be removed.

These days many varieties that are sold won't need any help from the gardener. F1 hybrids have been bred for ease of growing and can even be seen as female-only, so there is no need to worry.
With outdoor varieties male and female flowers are produced and the garden insects will do the rest, so again no worries.

Examples of varieties:
Burpless F1        - - - Outdoor     - - - Male/Female Flowers   - - - No removal necessary
Marketmore     - - - Outdoor     - - - Male/Female Flowers   - - -No removal necessary
Perfection          - - - Outdoor and Indoor                                    - - - No removal necessary
Crystal Lemon - - - Outdoor and Indoor                                    - - - No removal necessary
Femspot F1        - - - Indoor        - - - Female Only                     - - - No removal necessary
Telegraph          - - - Indoor        - - - Male/Female Flowers   - - - Remove male flowers

Container varieties:
Diva                       - - -  Outdoor and Indoor - - - No removal necessary
Bush Champion - - - Outdoor                        - - - No removal necessary

Pinching out is the name given to the method of removing parts of the stem and side shoots. Not all gardeners do it, but those who do, do it to control the size of the plant and more importantly to concentrate the plant's energy on bearing fruit, rather than the extra shoots and leaves. 
The general rule is to pinch out the shoots from side branches holding fruit, leaving two leaves after each. All female varieties produce fruit on the main stem, so remove the laterals altogether.
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Routine Care...

For a better crop a gardener can make the plant more comfortable.

Water the cucumber little at first or the roots may rot, once established the plant loves warm and humid conditions. Water well and even spray the greenhouse pathway - this will help increase humidity in the greenhouse.

Feed your cucumber plants with a good plant feed every few weeks once the first fruits have started to develop. There are many different plant feeds in the shops.

Scorching can burn the plant and inhibit development. In very hot sun it may be necessary to shade them by putting up a sheet or cardboard.

Disease and Pests need to be identified and dealth with quickly or they will consume your delicious plants for themselves. The internet is the quickest and best resource. Gardening and allotment Forums, Google images and the RHS website will be of great help. Do your research - knowledge is key in curing a poorly plant.
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Fruits of Labour...

You will be rewarded by all your care and hard work when you start picking and eating your own cucumbers. The taste can not be beaten.

Good Luck.
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