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Video: Growing Early Cucumbers
How hardening cucumber seedlings helped me get a very early and bountiful harvest
Every gardener wants to grow a rich harvest in a small area, so that there is still somewhere to grow other necessary crops. And, of course, everyone wants to get their first harvest as early as possible. True, not everyone succeeds, because early vegetables and berries can only be grown if certain, not quite simple agricultural techniques are followed.
Previously, we grew cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers on our site separately from each other, i.e. each culture had its own greenhouse. But, having perfectly mastered the technologies of growing these heat-loving vegetables, we began to collect very large yields of their fruits, which we had no time to process. And our family did not need so many cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers. Therefore, for peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes, we bought a new polycarbonate greenhouse measuring 3x6 m.
True, the recommendations of experts are known: not to grow tomatoes and cucumbers in the same greenhouse. These crops require completely different air humidity: tomatoes need drier air to avoid late blight, while cucumbers and peppers, on the contrary, need more humid air, otherwise, with dry air, a spider mite appears on the leaves of cucumbers. And yet we tried to plant these crops in the greenhouse in such a way that they grew well and gave big yields.
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However, two years ago, I could not resist the general enthusiasm and planted two grape bushes in a greenhouse on the same garden bed, and also planted several watermelon and melon plants. The plants became a little crowded, and I had to buy another one of the same greenhouse.
In addition, I had the idea to conduct another experiment: to grow the harvest of cucumbers as early as possible, and at the same time observe how low air temperatures can withstand the plants of cucumbers and tomatoes, and how this will affect the yield. Therefore, I decided to plant these crops in the greenhouse as early as possible. I was also prompted to this by the fact that when planting seedlings in a polycarbonate greenhouse at the usual time - in the second half of May - the seedlings grew worse due to the fact that it was already quite hot in the greenhouse at that time, and the seedlings take root better in cool weather … Therefore, every year I carried out experiments on planting seedlings of cucumbers and tomatoes: each subsequent year, I planted it 5-7 days earlier than the previous year. And I came to the following conclusions.
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For early planting of seedlings in the greenhouse, you need to temper it well, especially since after the last warm winter, as a geographer, it was clear to me that the summer of 2014 would not pamper us with warmth.
Experiments with cucumbers
Some gardeners soak cucumber seeds in a damp cloth, and when they hatch, place them in the refrigerator for several days. What is it like for unfortunate sprouts from the heat to get into the cold! I think they are stressed by it. So I decided to go the other way.
Many seeds are treated with growth stimulants and special preparations for diseases, so they cannot be soaked. Yes, and this is a troublesome business - to soak, monitor them, especially since seeds of one variety germinate, as a rule, not all at the same time, but at different times, and I stick to sowing seeds according to the lunar sowing calendar. In addition, very often when the seeds are soaked, some of them rot.
Last year I sowed dry cucumber seeds in peat tablets on March 5. These peat tablets are very convenient for growing pumpkin crops. Very often, gardeners complain that they sowed a lot of cucumber seeds into the greenhouse soil, but none of them sprouted. This is because some insects live in the ground that eat the delicate root, so the plants do not germinate, but in such tablets the seed germination is 100%, because there is dead soil and it contains growth stimulants. Even very old seeds germinate in them.
After sowing, the tablets were placed in containers, which were placed in plastic bags. I put them on the glassed-in balcony, which is not insulated, and here and there cold air from the street passes through the cracks. True, the door to the warm room is constantly open, since it is very hot at home. On the balcony where the crops were located, the temperature was no higher than + 8 ° C. Outside at this time, temperatures were stable.
So my seeds had to germinate in cold conditions. It is here that they immediately become tempered, and learn to fight for life from the moment of "birth". They also adjust to the difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures. In addition, such temperature drops have a very good effect on fruiting. Luiza Nilovna Klimtseva wrote about this in the magazine "Flora Price" more than once.
Of course, in the cold, the seeds will germinate later than in the warm. So the hybrids Masha F1 and Magdalena F1 ascended on the fourth day, Herman F1 and Ekol F1 ascended on the fifth day. Just in case, I sow a little more seeds than I need. This is due to the fact that recently there are a lot of poor quality seeds on the market.
After the emergence of seedlings, be sure to remove the mesh from the peat tablets, I draw the attention of novice gardeners to this. This is necessary so that later, being already large, the seedlings do not die due to the fact that their roots could not break through this mesh. This has been verified by sad experience. Sellers of peat tablets advise not to remove this mesh and plant the plants with it. Never listen to them! Once I did just that, and I lost all the cucumber plants, and they were already flowering.
Sometimes in peat tablets, cucumber roots first appear, and then cotyledonous leaves. The main thing is not to miss this moment. If the spine is still small and has not broken through the mesh, then I pinch its end, but only by 1-2 mm. If he made his way through the net, then, without fear, I cut him off along with the net. At this early stage of development, the plant does not experience the stress of the pick. But then it will build up a good root system, which will certainly affect the harvest. If you dive pumpkin crops when they already have the first true leaf, then then they will get sick and do not tolerate a transplant. This is what I do with any pumpkin crop, but only at this stage of development!
If you do not pinch the root, then then it will reach the bottom of the pot (if I grow it on the balcony) and will grow in a circle along its walls or stop the growth of roots. And so that fruiting is abundant, and the plant can feed each cucumber, you need to form a good root system as early as possible. After such a pick, cucumber plants grow a very powerful root system. In the fall, when I removed the cucumber plants, I noticed that those of them with the tip of the main root pinched turned out to be with a huge number of roots, and their yield was much higher.
As soon as roots or cotyledonous leaves appeared in the tablet, I plant it in a spacious pot with a diameter of at least 14 cm and a height of at least 15 cm, without disturbing its contents (without a mesh). If the pot is larger, then later, after transplanting cucumber seedlings to the garden, it will take root better. I think the larger and more spacious the pot, the better.
If I plan to grow one or two plants on the balcony, so that I can harvest cucumbers at home, then I plant one plant in a very large pot. I no longer put the dived plants in a plastic bag, so as not to pamper them with a special microclimate.
When planting a tablet in a pot, I put a layer of sphagnum moss on the bottom of it (for drainage), then I fill it halfway with soil. I put one tablet of Glyokladin in the center (it has proven itself very well when growing seedlings and in the open field), sprinkle this tablet with soil, then put a tablet with a plant and fill the remaining space of the pot with the same soil. I water the planted plant with Energen (13 drops per 250 ml of water) and spread 10-13 HB-101 peas on the surface of the soil. I do not fill up the soil to the edge of the pot, leaving 5 cm. In the process of growing, the roots of the cucumbers appear at the bottom of the stem above the ground, which I then sprinkle with soil.
I put the pots on the balcony again, closer to the glass, so that there is more light and coolness. I do this if the plants still have to grow on the balcony before they are planted in the greenhouse. Plants in large pots, which will then bear fruit on the balcony, on the contrary, I put in a warmer place.
I begin to apply liquid fertilizing after 7 days at intervals of one week, alternating fertilizer "Ideal" (2 caps per liter of water) and HB-101 (2 drops per liter of water).
Recently, I was convinced that the seedlings of cucumbers with cotyledon leaves in peat tablets planted in a greenhouse grow better and faster than seedlings of cucumbers planted from pots, because the roots of the plant immediately fill the space of the garden in the way they need, and do not get a small piece her area in a pot. Therefore, the landing dates must be shifted to early April. In early April, I sowed a few cucumber seeds as a safety net on the balcony in case the seedlings planted early in the greenhouse would die from the night frost.
I planted an adult seedling of cucumbers (3-4 true leaves), sown on March 5, and several plants with one real leaf in a greenhouse (made of cellular polycarbonate) on April 14. Hot beds in the greenhouse were prepared in late autumn. I added a pinch of double superphosphate, kalimagnesia, AVA (powder), azophoska, Bisolbifita and two tablets of Glyokladin to the hole, despite the fact that I already added some of these fertilizers (except for azophoska) to the ridges in late autumn. The fertilizers applied in the spring will act after the fertilizers that have swollen in the autumn have worked out, because they dissolve for a very long time and slowly.
The planted seedlings were watered with a warm Energen solution (one bottle per 10 liters of water) and covered with a dense spunbond. On April 14, I planted three more (also seasoned) cucumbers in the second greenhouse between the young grape plants, but not on the hot ridges. I noticed that their growth lag was significant. If in a greenhouse on a hot ridge, cucumbers had six large leaves, then in a greenhouse without a hot ridge, only three. Fruiting came four days later, although the hybrids were the same. Therefore, I believe that planting seedlings so early is possible only on hot ridges.
In sunny weather at 12 o'clock the parents threw back the spanbond, and at 17 o'clock they closed it again. So they kept warm in the beds. In cloudy weather, the cucumbers were closed all day. I watered them rarely, as the earth dries up and only at 13 o'clock, always with warm water. She began to do liquid top dressing only at the beginning of May - once every 10 days, and in the summer, once a week.
I removed the lower flowers on the plants in the four leaf axils. It was impossible for them to bear fruit, it was necessary to increase the green mass.
The plants survived five return frosts, in the most extreme of which the outside temperature dropped to -5 ° C. And yet we removed the first three cucumbers already on May 17 from the Masha F1 hybrid plants. And from that time on they began to bear fruit abundantly. On May 19, the first cucumbers were removed from the Herman F1 and Ekol F1 hybrids. They were all sown on March 5th. The second batch of seedlings, sown on April 2 and also planted on April 14, began to bear fruit ten days later.
On the stem of all plants, at first there were 1-2 cucumbers, later, when it got warmer, 6-7 cucumbers were formed. On the lashes appearing from the axils of the leaf (I left 2 leaves on them, removed the rest) there was a huge number of cucumbers, while on unseasoned plants in past years, usually 2-3. Hybrids Magdalena F1 and Ekol F1 produced record harvests. The number of cucumbers they had was impossible to count. There were more than 13 of them in different sizes.
That is, I counted up to this figure, and the rest were inside the brush. On the seed bags it was written that these hybrids, with sufficient nutrition, form 6-7 fruits each, but my plants yielded more than twice as much! Consequently, with good hardening from the "birth" of cucumber plants, you can get record yields. This means that you do not need to plant a lot of plants, there will be space for other crops, which is important in small areas.
I also sowed and tempered the seeds of melons and watermelons. They were also planted on April 14, and they survived the return frosts well. However, due to the fact that they were not pollinated by insects in the first half of cold June, and I came only for the weekend and could not pollinate by hand, the fruits did not set, I had to remove these plants and put tomato stepchildren in their place.
June was cold, but my cucumbers didn't care. Watered at this time in greenhouses not often and only with lukewarm water. Twice a week, I made sure to remove flowers from cucumbers and tomatoes when they had faded, otherwise they began to rot, and the fruits themselves could rot from them. This phenomenon occurs in greenhouses at low outside temperatures.
At the beginning of September, the lower part of the plants was bare (I removed the leaves and fruiting lashes), and left a few side lashes in the upper part of the plant in order to harvest in the autumn. When they reached the roof, I sent them in different directions. At this time, I also removed the faded flowers. Our cucumbers were bearing fruit until October 15, and on October 16 the first severe frost occurred. On this day, the fruiting of our cucumbers ended.
Read part 2. Growing early tomatoes
Olga Rubtsova, gardener,
candidate of geographical sciences
Vsevolozhsky district of the
Photo by the author
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