Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) are ideal for the beginner vegetable gardener because they are quick and easy to grow. Cucumbers are renowned for being prolific – just two or three plants are likely to keep a family supplied with fresh home-grown cucumber all summer long. Cucumbers are a part of the cucurbit family which is made up of watermelon, pumpkins, zucchini, squash, marrow and rockmelons. Cucumber fruit develops quickly and they do well in our hot, Western Australian summers producing a lot of fruit quickly and in a relatively small space.s
If you have ever wondered how to grow cucumber in Perth, Western Australia then look no further. A relatively easy vegetable to grow there are a few tricks to successfully growing cucumbers in Perth, but get these right and you will be laughing.
When to plant cucumber in Perth:
Sow cucumber seeds into the garden once the cold has passed has passed and its consistently warm. In Western Australia this is typically between September and December. They are very sensitive to cold and thrive in hot weather, so they’re not worth starting until its properly warm.
Types of cucumber in Western Australia:
There are a wide variety of cucumber available in Western Australia. Check your local nursery. A few of the more common varieties in Perth are;
- Lebanese cucumbers – the most popular variety to grow in Australia. They grow to between 15-20cm in length.
- Continental cucumbers- the longest of the cucumbers, continental cucumbers can grow up to 40cm long.
- Apple cucumbers – are relatively new on the scene but make a crunchy addition to fresh salads.
- Baby cucumbers – on the other end of the scale are these little guys which make the perfect snack.
- Gherkin – pickling cucumbers have small distinct nobs throughout their skin which gives them the perfect pickle texture.
How to grow cucumbers in Perth, WA:
Follow the following guide for growing cucumbers at home in the backyard or garden. Make sure you have ample room.
- Choose a spot in the garden which is full sun and enrich the soil with a quality dynamic lifter and soil improver.
- Sow 4-6 seeds into mounds of moist soil spaced 40cm apart and water well.
- As your cucumber seedlings grow, thin seedlings and leave only the two strongest. Mulch around the base of the plant with organic mulch like pea straw to retain moisture.
- Feed weekly with a liquid plant food that is suitable for vegetables.
- To save space, train cucumber vines to grow on a fence or trellis – tie young stems to a wire support and eventually, the tendrils will cling to the wire.
- Pick fruit regularly to encourage a longer harvest window.
Growing cucumbers in pots:
Cucumbers grow best in the garden, but can still grow well in pots.
- Choose a pot at least 40cm wide and deep. Position in full sun and protect from strong winds.
- Fill pot with quality potting mix
- Sow 4-6 seeds, cover lightly and water well.
- Feed weekly with liquid plant food that is suitable for vegetables.
- As cucumber seedlings grow, thin seedlings and leave only the two strongest. Position a trellis behind the pot or a tripod frame in the middle and tie young stems to the support. Eventually, the tendrils will cling to the wire.
- Pick fruit regularly to prolong harvest.
How to propagate cucumbers:
Cucumbers can be propagated by collecting seeds from mature cucumbers.
- Cucumbers are eaten as immature fruits. When cucumbers are grown for seed allow them to grow beyond market-mature size. Cucumbers should lose their firmness and often change colour to yellow or orange. It is best to wait several weeks after this colour change before extracting the seeds.
- If weather and plant health allow, the fruits can be left on the vine in the garden while they continue to mature and soften. Mature cucumbers will pull easily from the vine when ripe.
- Cut cucumbers in half lengthwise to extract the seeds. Scoop out seeds and any surrounding pulp from the seed cavity. Place this mixture of seeds and pulp into a small bucket or jar with some water. The mixture needs to undergo fermentation for 1-3 days to remove the pulp from the seeds. The fermenting mixture should be held in an open container at temperatures between 21-26 degrees Celsius.
- When fermentation is complete, decant the seeds by adding more water to the container and stirring the mixture – the pulp and lightweight seeds will float to the top and can be poured off, leaving only viable seeds which will have settled at the bottom of the container. Rinse clean the viable seeds, before drying on a coffee filters or paper towel until they can be cleanly snapped in half.
- Store cucumber seeds in a cool, dark, and dry place in an airtight container. It is important that no moisture and humidity impact the seeds. Stored correctly, cucumber seeds will remain viable for 5 years.
Best fertiliser for cucumbers:
Using the right fertiliser for cucumbers can directly improve your vegetable production. For disease and insect free zucchini plants with bigger and tasty fruits, feeding your cucumber fertiliser is a must.
Now the question; what is the best fertiliser for cucumber?
My personal pick for the best is Yates Thrive Veggie and Herb Liquid Plant Food, it provides the balanced nutrition they need to produce juicy, luscious cucumbers and healthy green foliage.
When to harvest cucumbers:
Majority of cucumbers will be ready for harvest 8 to 10 weeks after planting.
Depending on your variety of cucumber. Harvest your cucumbers as soon as they are ripe, Regular harvesting will encourage your plants to produce more. Cut the ripe cucumbers away from the vine using a sharp knife.
Cucumber companion plants:
There are many vegetables that make excellent companions for cucumbers. Peas, corn, beans, and lentils to name a few. Legumes area good good choice as their root system that increases nitrogen in the soil.
Because vining cucumbers need a trellis to keep the fruit off the ground and prevent diseases, corn or sunflowers are also a good option as they can act as a natural trellis for cucumber vines.
Cucumbers care and common problems:
Snails and slugs will attack young seedlings. Protect your cucumbers using snail and slug pellets. Fungal infections such as powdery mildew or downy mildew can become a problem during the growth cycle. Remove infected leaves and spray with a suitable organic fungicide. To minimise the risk of infection, space your cucumbers plants at least 1m apart and avoid overhead watering.
How to store whole cucumbers:
The best way to store a cucumber is in the refrigerator:
1. Wash cucumbers and dry them thoroughly to remove any dirt or bugs.
2. Place cucumbers in the warmest spot of your refrigerator for up to a week. This is usually near the front of your fridge, or on the door.
How to store cut cucumbers:
Ideally cucumbers should be sliced fresh, however if you have sliced cucumbers and aren’t ready to eat them yet, here’s how to store them:
1. Place them in a container with a lid.
2. Fill the container with water.
3. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
This method works really well—the cold cucumbers keep their crunch as they’re shielded from the dry air in the fridge.
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