Cucumbers are gross feeders and require very liberal quantities of well-rotted manure. Seed is sown any time from February to April, one seed being placed in a 3 in. pot. The pot should be stood on a shelf near the glass in a heated greenhouse. When the seedlings have grown their first pair of proper leaves they are ready for planting in the border. The bed is made on or near the hot-water pipes. First plenty of draining material, such as large clinkers, is necessary, and over this a 3 in. layer of fibrous loam. A further layer from 6 in. to 9 in. deep of fibrous loam mixed with half its quantity of decayed manure is placed over this.
The temperature required is 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and in very sunny weather it will be necessary to shade the plants to prevent scorch. This is most easily done by lime washing the glass on the outside.
The shoots on the cucumber plant grow very rapidly in the hot moist atmosphere and they require weekly attention in the matter of training. The main shoot should be tied in position to the bamboo cane set alongside each plant and all side shoots as they grow should be stopped after the second leaf. From these further shoots will grow, which should be stopped after the first leaf and all should be tied to the wires so that they do not break off with the weight of the fruit.
Cucumber plants continue to bear fruit for the greater part of the summer, but if they show signs of ceasing to crop they should be left un-watered for ten days. After ten days renew the water supply, gild this should give the plants a new lease of life.
Cucumbers, Ridge. Beds should be prepared in the open in the same manner as for vegetable marrows, except that it is an advantage to build the soil and manure into a low mound or ridge so that the plants are as fully exposed to the sun as possible. Seed is sown singly in small pots in a frame or greenhouse as advised for marrows. The plants, after hardening off, are planted on their mounds in early June. Plant 3-4 ft. apart, and pinch out the tips of each runner when it has made about six leaves. Later, train the side shoots evenly to cover the surface of the bed, fixing them in position with wooden or galvanized-wire pegs. Water freely and feed once a week with weak liquid manure as soon as the first fruits start to swell. Fertilize female flowers (distinguishable by the embryo cucumbers immediately behind them) with pollen from the male blooms. Cutting should begin as soon as the most forward cucumbers are of usable size and should continue regularly throughout the season. Varieties are Stockwood Ridge and Perfection.
Cucumbers, Frame. These may be grown in either greenhouses or frames. Amateurs will be well advised not to sow before the end of February in a heated greenhouse, or mid-April in an unheated one. In a frame on a hotbed sowing may start early in April. The seeds are best sown singly in small pots in the same manner as vegetable marrows, and the early treatment is similar.
Planting should be done when the seedlings have two rough leaves each. Prepare the bed either on the ground or on the greenhouse staging. Slates or sheets of corrugated iron make a good base. On this spread some old clinkers or straw and then a 6in. layer of rough turfy loam mixed with about onetthird its own bulk of well-rotted stable manure and a good sprinkling of bonemeal and wood ashes. At intervals of 3 ft. make low mounds (or one mound to each 4 ft. by 3 ft. light in a frame), each consisting of bushel of the same compost, and plant one cucumber on the summit of each. Place a stake to each plant and make it secure.
Train the main stem towards the apex of the house, pinching out its tip when it reaches this, and tie in side growths to horizontal wires 15 in. apart and 9 in. below the glass. Pinch out tip of each side growth two leaves beyond the first fruit. In frames pinch out tip of each plant when it is about 6 inches high. Spread out the side shoots that result evenly around each plant and peg to the soil. They are, in turn, stopped when they have formed about six leaves. It is the tertiary side shoots from these that will produce fruits. Male flowers should be removed, as, unlike ridge cucumbers, it is undesirable that the female flowers should be fertilized.
Water freely and syringe twice daily with tepid water to keep the atmosphere moist. Little air will be needed at first, but open the top ventilators when the temperature reaches
75°. As soon as surface roots appear, a top dressing of the same compost as that used to form the mounds should be given. This may be repeated whenever more surface roots appear. Liquid manure is not required until plants are fruiting freely, when weekly or bitweekly doses will be appreciated. Shade is necessary from late May.
Telegraph, Butchers’ Disease Resister, and Conqueror are reliable free-cropping varieties. The last-named is particularly good for unheated greenhouses or frames. Feminex has nearly all female flowers.
Red spider and white fly are the commonest pests. Gummosis, foot rot, wilt, and mildew are the worst diseases.