The long and the short of cucumbers

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The skifields are closing and I’ve had to remove the cloches from my garlic as they are about to launch themselves through the roof. 

But the cloches have been a fantastic source of initially warming up the soil before planting then keeping it warm and bugging the birds, who just love to pluck the emerging green shoots. Welcome spring. 

A sure sign of the new season, in my glasshouse, is the germinating cucumber seeds. 

The thought of actually being able to taste a cucumber that is firm and excites the taste buds after months of watery green sticks that go mushy in the fridge after a few days is just fantastic. 

Cucumbers are so easy to grow from seed, which are large enough to handle. With the right temperature they can germinate in seven to 14 days, but a cold snap may set them back. 

They should be tough enough to transplant in three to four weeks and can start producing cucumbers in a couple of months. Last year, I sowed a second crop in early January which kept us going until autumn. 

Start them off in small pots. I put two seeds in a pot and when the first true leaves have opened, the lower leaves are just seedling leaves, and I can see good signs of root activity, I transfer them to their bigger, permanent pots. 

But like tomatoes, try to avoid touching the delicate base of the stem. Cucumbers are suitable for growing in a glasshouse, a tunnel house or outside. I have grown them in both environments but I always start them off indoors for fear of late frosts. 

Cucumbers need support. Think of them as a climbing plant. 

I now create a ‘wigwam’ of canes for them. As the plant grows, tie them into the canes to support the growing fruits, water regularly and feed with tomato fertiliser.

Jacqui Stubbs is a landscape designer with Remarkable Gardens Ltd.