How to Cultivate Cucumbers (Frame and Ridge)
In some cases the frame cucumbers are grown in greenhouses, but in the small garden they may be grown in the cold frame. They are popular and are mainly grown for salads, the smaller varieties are sometimes pickled.
They need a well drained soil, and the frames in which they are to grow should be placed so that the seedlings are sheltered from cold wind3. Plenty of water should be given the plants, but it should be allowed to drain away quickly, and on no account should be allowed to become stagnant.
The beds should be started in April, but the seed should be sown four weeks before the beds are ready, that is, in March. When there are several frames to be filled the plants may be sown at intervals of two or three days. This will ensure a continuous supply of cucumbers. When the seedlings are established the lights of the frame may be lifted, but must be closed at night. They must also be covered with mats at night time. This should be done until well into June.
If the laterals are strong when the plants are set out they should be stopped at the second leaf, or if they are not strong enough at the time, then about a week after planting. After this treatment four shoots will break away and these should be trained to each corner of the frame, but they must be stopped when they come to within 9 inches of the corner. When the fruit appears it should not be allowed to develop on the main stem, and only three or four to each quarter, the rest being picked off.
If the plants are allowed to bear too many fruits they will become weak, and the fruits will lose their flavour. They will also be smaller in size. To keep the plants strong, the main shoot should be pegged down to the bed. This will form new roots and supply more plant food.
Cucumbers should be grown in a temperature of 70 degrees by day and CO degrees by night. Most of this heat will be given by the hotbed, but towards the middle of June this will have passed away, and artificial heat or weather conditions will have to be relied on. If the weather turns cold, air should be excluded, and very little water given. These plants do not like excessive sunlight, and if this is strong it is advisable to shade the frames by whitewashing the lights.
The first crop will be failing by the middle of August, but the May sowings will carry through to September.
With the amateur gardener the ridge cucumber is rather more popular than the frame kinds, and is more extensively used for salads.
These should be sown in a hotbed, in the middle of April. They may be treated as frame cucumbers, except that during the first week they will need plenty of air. When the plants are well established they should be hardened-off and planted out in rows 6 feet apart, between which peas or broad beans should have been planted. These afford protection in severe weather.
In the centre of the 6 feet space a trench l£ feet wide and a spit deep, should be made. This should be filled with fresh manure, old leaves, grass, or hay, to provide warmth. This should be done in April or May. When the soil has been warmed the plants should be set li feet apart. These should have plenty of water two or three times a week.
Strong plants may have their centres pinched out before they are transplanted, or this may be done when growth has been established. In the warm weather the plants will not need protection.
Unless some of the fruits are required for seed, they should be gathered three times a week, and any that are distorted should be removed at once.
Some of the best varieties for cultivation in the amateurs garden are: FRAME CUCUMBERS: Pride of the Market; Rollisons Telegraph; Covent Garden; Every Bay; Market Fav-ourite; Sensation.
Stockivood Long Ridge; King of the Ridge; Perfection Ridge.