Wednesday 26 June 2013

Cucumber woes

Having had good success with outdoor cucumbers last year, this year I decided to grow them in greater quantity. Last year, the two plants that made it to maturity produced between them something like 25 - 30 fruits (I didn't count them). This year I planted-up six plants, three each of "Iznik F1" and "Melen F1"  - both so-called cocktail varieties, whose fruits only grow to about six inches in length.

Until recently, they looked normal, but a couple of weeks ago they began to look very unhappy. The leaves lost their gloss and became more yellow than green. I fed them and watered them and generally did everything I could think of to nurture them, but when I went off on holiday I thought I had probably seen the last of them. Well, on my return the situation was a bit mixed. Two of the plants were definitely beyond redemption:

These ones I pulled up and discarded. I found that their roots had almost completely disappeared, and what was left was crawling with tiny millipedes. Was this cause or effect? Do millipedes attack the roots of a living plant and cause it to die, or do they just move in to take advantage of the decaying material associated with an already-dead plant? I don't know.

Anyway, the remaining plants look a bit better than before. This looks healthy enough:-

I have loosely tied the plants to their supporting poles and they are beginning to climb:

The first few fruits are forming now.

Since I took these photos I have put in place a few pieces of broken terracotta pot to keep those little cucumbers off the surface of the soil, which will hopefully make them less likely to rot.

So, now I have four cucumber plants that look as if they may possibly survive. Looking on the bright side, that means I have twice as many as I had last year. That has to be a good thing, surely? On the down side, the two casualties were both from the same cluster, so now I have one group of three and one group of one! I'll have to find something to fill the empty space. Meanwhile, I have sown my last few spare seeds, hoping that it won't be too late!


  1. It's a good job that you decided to grow more this year. You've got to look on the bright side I suppose.

  2. I'm sorry to hear of your cucumber troubles. I'm off to inspect mine tonight, I'm waiting anxiously for the flowers to open.

  3. Millipedes will eat cucumber roots, Mark. Were they small ones or fairly big - the millipedes that is?

    1. Sue, they were tiny - but evidently with voracious appetites!

  4. What cunning and hungry creatures!

  5. I am impressed with your outdoor cucumbers, perhaps you are a bit warmer than us up here in the cold north! The odd loss is part of the game!
    I wonder why you have so many millipedes, I rarely see any and rush to take a picture for possible use on my blog. Seriously I wonder why you have so many?
    They certainly could be a cause of your plant death.
    On the other hand I am always suspicious of fancy new varieties, they rarely have the constitution of standard varieties. I think I will stick to my Marshalls Burpless ridge cucumber! If plants are struggling they will frequently succumb to pests such as your millipedes.

  6. I've got cuke problems too. I just can't get them to come up. The sow bugs eat them as they are germinating.

  7. Well, the ones that are left look great. I hope mine do as well this year.

  8. Your remaining plants look quite healthy. Hopefully whatever killed the other ones have been fed and are long gone now. My courgette this year are very slow to grow and no flowers but the plants look green and healthy.


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