This is a brief guide for growing cucumbers in a home-type environment. It is meant as a quick-start for cucumber growing and when you want more depth, look for more links elsewhere in www.indoorgardenhq.com.
Introduction to cucumber growing
Cucumbers are a great crop to grow indoors (if you have the space). There is a whole greenhouse industry built around growing cucumbers and so there are people who have already developed techniques, tools and technologies for growing these plants. I am going to take a few of those ideas and show you what you need to know to get started growing cucumbers in your own indoor garden.
What you need to consider
Before you begin there are six important things that you should consider.
1. Type of seed.
There are some plants that are bred specifically for growing indoors. They usually have:
- better disease resistance
- better yield
- have flowers that pollinate themselves (without bees or you doing it all)
The downside of indoor seeds is that they are quite a bit more specialized meaning that they are more expensive. It’s common in professional vegetable greenhouses to pay upwards of $1.00 per seed with a minimum order in the 100 seed range.
Garden variety seeds are much less expensive to buy (and much easier to find). There is also a much wider range of garden varieties of cucumbers than indoor varieties.
The problem with buying cucumber seeds from a garden supply store is that you will likely be purchasing seeds that are quite a bit more work (dealing with disease and pollination) and that will produce fewer cucumbers. You can still grow these garden varieties but know that you are getting into a project that is quite a bit more work!
Whichever seeds you choose, you will need to buy some before you begin.
2. Space needs.
Cucumbers are vines and need a lot of space. They have very large leaves—especially in optimum conditions. Know this before you start growing them. Also, most plants will need to climb a structure that can hold a fair amount of weight. This is certainly possible in most homes, but know that you will be growing a large, fast growing plant that will want to climb things (and it’s tendrils will attach to everything within reach).
3. Light needs.
Cucumbers need very good light if they are to produce fruit well. This means a large south-facing window (in the northern hemisphere) or north-facing (in the southern hemisphere). Or, it means adding addition light with a grow light.
4. Temperature and humidity.
Cucumbers can handle fairly warm temperatures. Their ideal is 23°C (73°F) in the daytime and 21°C (70°F) in the nighttime. The exact numbers are not as important as the difference between the numbers (so the fact that it’s a little cooler at night than in the day is more important than the exact temperature).
It is best if the temperature stays below 26°C (79°F), but this may not always be possible. Higher than this and the plants will do some water-conservation techniques that slow their growth and make the fruit more rubbery.
5. Watering system.
Cucumbers need more water than an average houseplant does. They would like it more consistently, especially when they are producing fruit. An adult plant will use 2-3 litres (half a gallon to three-quarters of a gallon) a day. I recommend that you build a self-watering system of some sort; the simplest, a wick system, is what I will assume you are building for this guide.
Naturally, you could also use the watering can approach, but on sunny days you will be watering 5 or 6 times once the plants are producing.
6. Skin irritation
Cucumbers irritate some people’s skin very easily (others barely notice it). It’s a good idea to know whether they bother you before you have to work with them all the time or put them in a place that people will be touching them often. I, for example, have to wear long sleeves and gloves if I am working with them for even a short time.