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ArticlesVegetables in September

Vegetables in September

This year is proving to be wonderful for all tree fruit, and our pigs diet is almost 100% reject apples, with kind souls dumping fresh supplies every day on our doorstep.

Annual fruit plants such as tomatoes and cucumbers have also enjoyed the warm early summer, and at this stage of the game appreciate careful management to keep them fruiting.

The cucumber plant is warmth driven, and it was difficult to get them established in the cool spring, my first greenhouse plant being eaten to ground level by woodlice. So in late May we sowed variety Grandal f1. It has been fruiting since late June in ever increasing numbers.

Cucumbers are related to marrows and squash and need masses of nutrients and moisture. They do best sown into rich soil, with constantly moist soil. This goes for outdoor as well as indoor plants, the latter generally fruiting twice as heavily.

Picking the fruits before they get too big, thick skinned and seedy gives you both sweeter fruit and keeps the plant flowering. At some stage the main stem often finishes growing and stops setting fruit. You can either sow another plant or, our preferred method, you can let some of the side branches grow into full stems.

Even so, the plant can still exhaust itself occasionally. The slightest upset, such as drought or a cool spell often checks fruiting. One of our three plants (yes, we like cucumbers!) variety Louisa has been giving masses of the sweetest fruit possible, but is now in a lull and some of the leaves have gone pale green. Experience tells me that in a week or so it will regroup and start flowering again, fruiting progressively but less rapidly until the first frost.

Many of the books talk of cucumbers needing humidity. This is not an overbearing requirement, and watering neighbouring tomatoes every other day generally provides enough humidity

Any of you with plants growing in Grobags or pots will need serious green fingers to keep the soil constantly moist and nutrient rich. It is possible but you must never go away for the weekend! My preference would be to lift a paving slab in the greenhouse and plant into soil under a thick compost much.

And what is easy to get into, but hard to get out of? Trouble. Especially with a cucumber.

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