Cucumber is a gourd family Cucurbtacea known to be the best and fourth most cultivated vegetable around the world. It is a summer season vegetable which has a lot of health benefits especially for skin and eyes. Cucumber is a creeping vine plant which can be grown over trellises or you can leave on the ground. They are easy growing plants and also very easy to care and maintain.
Cucumber can be grown outdoors, indoors and in hydroponic method. As this is a summer season vegetable, you can grow them all year around with hydroponics. Cucumbers comes in many varieties, Burpless cucumbers, Lemon cucumbers, Sweet Armenian cucumbers, Parthenocarpic cucumbers and Gynecoecous cucumbers. Choose the best variety for your garden.
Choose the best spot to plant your cucumbers where it can receive direct sunlight for at least 6 hours. Cucumbers grow fast in warm soil. Plant cucumber seeds directly into the soil only if the soil temperature is more than 70 to 80 degrees F. Once planted the seeds water them thoroughly to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Cover them with net to protect from birds. Soil should be well-drained and slightly alkaline with pH of 7.0.
Cucumber takes 7 to 10 days to germinate. Once they germinate water them frequently. Let the seedlings grow up to a height of 2 to 3 inches and then thin them. Cucumbers do not like disturbance so be careful while transplanting them. Keep only the healthy seedlings and plant them 1 inch deeply and giving space 8 to 10 inches apart.
If you have a lot of space leave the plant as it is or you can set up trellis for cucumbers to climb up. Water the plant regularly do not allow the ground dry out completely. Feed your plant with basic nutrients and when they start flowering feed them with bloom enhancers. Outdoor cucumbers need not to pollinate, that work is done by natural pollinators (bees).
For indoor gardening choose only dwarf varieties or parthenocarpic varieties. Parthenocarpic varieties produce only female flowers so they don’t require pollination. Choose a big container as cucumbers need lot of room to grow. Fill the pot with small stones or gravel at the bottom for well drainage. Add a mixture of potting soil and compost. Plant 4 to 5 seeds into the container and water them thoroughly.
Place the container near sunny window where they can receive at least 6 hours of full sun. After 6 to 10 days the seed will germinate. Once the seedling set true leaves, separate the plants into each pot. Arrange for small trellis near the pot or insert a long stick so that the plant can climb and grow healthy. Water the plant everyday, do not over water check the soil if it is dry then water the plant. Make sure the water drains out thoroughly. Don’t allow the roots sit in water this will lead to root rot and you will end up killing the plant.
If you are not able to give them natural sunlight, then place HID grow lights and make sure you provide them full spectrum for 16 hours every day.
Growing into Hydroponics:
Cucumbers grown all summer long but with hydroponics you can grow all year around. Growing in hydroponic method cucumbers produce healthier and higher yields comparatively growing in soil. You can grow cucumbers in an expando drip garden, deep water culture, or in ebb & flow using Rockwool as cucumbers grow well in this systems.
Cucumbers are usually very fragile and need specific care even with hydroponic growing. The best way to cultivate cucumbers in hydroponics is usually to grow them in a Rockwool. Drench Rockwool completely and drain them. Once you drain the Rockwool push the cucumber seed into Rockwool about 1/2 inch deep and water them everyday. After 8 to 10 days cucumber will germinate and will set true leaves. Start using hydroponic base nutrients.
For hydroponics growing Choose European Glasshouse as it is the best and most popular cucumber variety to grow. It will take 60 to 70 days to harvest from planting. Cucumbers do best within the temperature 75 and 80 degrees F. Use HID grow lights for 16 hours per day. Place the grow lights above the cucumber plant for about 24 inches and move the lights according to the growth of the plant.
Harvest the cucumbers by seeing its size, color and the firmness. Cucumbers can be picked when they are medium to dark green color and 5 to 8 inches long. After harvesting you can eat cucumber raw or make salad. Pickle it or make a soup out of it. Cold cucumber soup is best on hot summer days. Use cucumber as a facial to cleanse and to sooth your face.