Cucumber ‘Marketmore’ produces a long crop of crisp, well-flavoured cylindrical cucumbers throughout summer, even in poor seasons. The RHS AGM winner has a benignly bumpy skin that can be peeled or left on, and it is resistant to wilts and powdery mildew.
Cucumbers grow best in warm, fertile soil. Work in aged compost or manure before planting and water regularly to keep soil moist.
Cucumber plants grow best in fertile, well-drained soil amended with organic matter. Use a rototiller to loosen the soil and add compost or well-rotted manure.
Avoid letting the soil dry out, especially when the cucumbers are growing and blooming. Water stress can lead to bitter-tasting cucumbers, and fluctuating soil moisture is a common cause of cucumber fruit rot.
To ensure consistent, plentiful yields, choose disease-resistant varieties. ‘Marketmore’, a popular slicing variety, is resistant to bacterial wilt and other diseases spread by cucumber beetles. Cucumbers grown on a trellis benefit from better airflow and are less likely to be affected by fungal diseases like wilt or powdery mildew.
Mulch the planting site with straw or shredded leaves to slow soil moisture evaporation. Mulching also reduces weed growth and makes it easier to maintain the soil’s proper moisture. Water the soil to a depth of at least 1 inch each week. A soaker hose or drip irrigation system works well.
Cucumber plants require a lot of water. Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation to avoid overwatering, which may lead to fungal disease problems such as leaf spot and wilts. Water in the morning so leaves can dry out during the day. This also helps reduce bacterial diseases that can affect fruit quality, according to The Weekend Homesteader.
Spread a 3-inch layer of black mulch in the garden or container before planting Marketmore cucumber seeds. This will retain moisture, regulate soil temperature and prevent weeds from competing with the plant for nutrients.
Then, mix equal parts of compost manure, coconut coir and potting soil. Plant the seeds, spacing them evenly and pressing them lightly into the soil. A soil thermometer will help you know when to expect germination, which is usually within two to four days.
Most cucumber varieties produce male and female flowers, and need pollination to set fruit. However, some are gynoecious and produce female flowers predominately. Seed packets for gynoecious varieties will include a few seeds (usually dyed a different color) of another variety to provide pollination.
Cucumbers need plenty of nutrients to grow big and produce lots of fruit. Fertilize the spot before planting and regularly during the growing season with a liquid fertilizer. Use a diluted seaweed-based product or homemade compost tea. The leaves can absorb the fertilizer, too, but spray them away from direct sunlight or you may scorch them.
Water cucumbers regularly but not excessively, especially during flowering and fruiting. Water stress can cause bitter-tasting compounds to concentrate in the fruit. Use your finger to measure soil moisture; it should be moist but not saturated. Water-stressed plants are also more susceptible to disease.
Grow your cucumbers vertically on a trellis for better yields and to prevent diseases that can be spread by splashing soil. Look for varieties with low levels of cucurbitacins, which are responsible for bitterness, including ‘Jazzer’ and ‘Holland’. Also try ‘Diva’, which is seedless and requires no pollination to produce fruit. This open-pollinated variety is also resistant to several major plant diseases.
Cucumbers are heavy feeders and require regular pruning. When plants are vigorous, you can use a sharp hand pruner to remove unruly side shoots and encourage primary growth. Mulching is also important to slow soil moisture evaporation and prevent fungal diseases like powdery mildew.
Seeds germinate best when the weather is warm, so start indoors in February or March if using a greenhouse or heated propagator, and transplant when they’ve got two leaves. Sow in containers filled with peat-free multipurpose compost, planting one cucumber seed per pot.
Greenhouse varieties, such as ‘Bella’ and ‘Dasher II,’ produce long, smooth fruits that look like supermarket cucumbers. They’re parthenocarpic, meaning they don’t need pollinating, but you must remove male flowers to ensure this doesn’t happen or the cucumbers will be bitter. Some outdoor varieties, such as ‘Ridge’ and ‘Armenia,’ are also self-pollinating but you can hand pollinate with a soft-bristled brush if necessary. Both types of cucumbers prefer a sunny location and grow quickly to produce many fruits.