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.
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...)
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.