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!