Cucumbers are probably the most reliable of crops for growing in a small city garden. Each plant will produce over a dozen fruits over a 3 month period. They are not troubled by poor weather or ravenous slugs. Having two or three plants, either in soil or in pots should provide for most household needs.
Cucumbers are started from seed in small pots in spring time after the cold has passed. They need protecting from slugs during their early stages but once planted out, either in soil beds or larger pots, need little attention. The vines grow to 2-3 metres in length and require support for the heavy fruit.
Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) have three main varieties: slicing, pickling, and seedless. The main types for a small garden are slicing and pickling. At this time of the year with an excess of fruit it is useful to look at preserving some for the winter. Dried cucumber slices work well as alternative crisps for children.
With a lot of tomatoes and salad ready in the garden at present, regular picking of cucumbers provides for daily salad needs and packed lunches. Once a week or every other week it is useful to batch harvest cucumbers for use in drying or pickling. Pickling involves making a vinegar and brine solution which will preserve the fruits for up to a year.
Cucumbers, while 95% water, also contain vitamins and minerals, making them a useful health supplement especially during warm weather. They are best eaten fresh or stored for a few days out of the fridge (to avoid frost burn). These reliable producers, particularly the older heirloom varieties, provide a flavoursome addition to the diet, far superior to the shop bought varieties.