Friday, 15 July 2011

cucumbers in a small garden

by Francesca @ FuoriBorgo



Last time I wrote about how I failed to grow chickpeas this year (here). As is always the case for a gardener, a crop that fails is a disappointment, but a good potential learning experience too. This time I learned that chickpea plants aren't very productive, and that, in order to harvest enough chickpeas for our family of five, I would need far more garden space than I currently have. Which brings me to my subject today: growing cucumbers in a small garden. Unlike my chickpeas, cucumbers are my pride and joy this year.



cucumbers in a small garden


Don't you love cucumbers in the summer? We do! Crispy, fresh, and juicy, cucumbers have the perfect texture and flavor for light and cool summer dishes. But I hadn't grown cucumbers for the last few years, due to a lack of space.



This year though I decided to experiment a little with new growing methods: because of space constraints I can't let cucumber plants trail across the ground, and because a trellis for them would be in the way and shade other crops, I planted cucumbers by the back wall of the garden. This is dry-wall masonry covered by thick ivy which is impossible to remove, though I suspect snails and slugs hang out here, keeping cool while waiting for the right time to pop out and devour my lettuces and leafy vegetables. It was time to find a good use for this pesky ivy.



(Of course, had I fenced my garden in against wild boars and deer, as I'd intended, I would now be using that fence as trellis. Instead, I put off building a fence, made a scarecrow (here), and thanked my lucky stars that the boars and deer haven't found my garden ... yet...)


cucumber


cucumber


Turns out that the ivy works great as a support for my cucumber plants, which trail happily up the ivy stems as they grow, and are thriving - I now feel ever so much better about that ivy! When you garden in a small space, it's great when you can get everything working harmoniously together - even the snail motels.



For specific technicalities on growing cucumbers, check out the excellent BBC Gardening Guide here.