Cucumbers can be finicky when growing indoors and in a Little Green Thumbs garden, so we’ve compiled a few things to remember for growing great cucumbers!
First, the cucumbers chosen for the Little Green Thumbs garden (Diva Cucumbers) are self-pollinating, which means that they do not need to be hand-pollinated in order to set fruit. We do this as a fail-safe for our classroom gardens. If you are having problems with your Little Green Thumbs garden, it should not be a lack of pollination. However, if you are growing with other varieties of cucumber, ensure that you are hand-pollinating cucumber flowers if needed!
Ok, so you want to grow great cucumbers in the classroom? Here are a few things to remember:
Cucumbers are sensitive to cold, so ensure that there is no cold draft coming from a window or doorway. Cucumbers prefer room temperature heat, and thrive best when night temperatures don’t dip below 15 degrees Celsius. We know this is not always in your control, but consider setting your grow light cycle to come on in the night, which will deliver a small amount of heat to the plants when the temperatures dip overnight.
Cucumbers need plenty of water to be healthy and produce well! Make sure cucumbers receive consistent water (especially when they are about to produce fruit), otherwise they may produce less and smaller fruit. Little Green Thumbs gardens are equipped with self-watering boxes, which help to keep watering consistent. Ensure your garden box water reservoirs don’t dry out!
One trick to ensure your soil moisture stays consistent is to add ‘mulch’ around cucumber plants. Mulch is a covering on the soil, such as compost, straw, dried leaves or shredded newspaper. Simply spread 1 inch thick of mulch on the soil around your cucumber plants to prevent excessive evaporation. Try using compost from your vermi-composting kit as mulch. It will also supply nutrients to your plants!
Cucumbers need space to grow and proliferate. Grow vertical! Trellis your cucumbers, which also helps improve air circulation.
Cucumbers are voracious eaters! If you suspect they haven’t received enough nutrients, you can use a cup of your vermi-compost . Simply work the compost into the soil around the plant and then water on top. You may also use a couple table spoons of the Evolve brand fertilizer provided with the Little Green Thumbs Kit. Ensure the fertilizer does not touch the cucumber plant.
Lastly, keep an eye out for any pests! Often, we don’t see pests until it is too late. As a precaution, try making some simple sticky traps. This is a fun activity you can try with your class, and you can assign a student to check daily for signs of pests. Find the directions for sticky-traps on our site here (link to sticky traps on resources page)
Already see pests? Try using our soap spray recipe here. Soap spray is safe for students and the classroom, but can be mighty powerful on a pest invasion!
A few pests to look out for on your cucumber plants:
Aphids. Aphids are tiny, oval, and yellowish to greenish pear-shaped insects that colonize on the undersides of leaves. They leave behind sticky excrement called honeydew which can turn into a black sooty mold. You will see the leaves curl under and become deformed and yellowish. Use the soap spray, or discard plants if infestation is serious.
Whiteflies. Whiteflies will congregate on the undersides of leaves and fly up when disturbed. Look our for yellowing leaves and tiny white winged insects around plants. Remove infested leaves and use the soap spray recipe for 10 days to cover the lifecycle. Discard the whole plant if infestation is serious.