Cucumber is a creeping vine that roots in the ground and grow up trestle or other supporting frames. The plant has large leaves that form a canopy over the fruit. Its fruit is roughly cylindrical elongated in shape. Its originated in Asia but is now grown in most continents (even in countries like Nigeria). Many different varieties are traded on the global market.
Cucumber is regarded as a healthy fruit because it is low in calories and fat. It contains many vitamins and minerals. It is a great medicine used to reduce weight and heat. It helps in keeping the body hydrated and flushing out toxins from the body. It reduces cholesterol level, aid ingestion, relieves joint pain etc. There are so many benefits in eating cucumber.
But what is exciting about farming this crop? The communities we’ve trained so far became attracted to cucumber farming because of the following reasons
- The general belief that cucumber cannot do well in Eastern Nigeria was proved wrong
- Short maturity period of 6 weeks.
- High quality seeds we provided which gave them high yield and quality of fruit that was better than what was available
- High of income was made from sales of products
- The promotion of organic farming which was healthier and easier for them
As a farmer, there are procedures which are taken in starting up a cucumber farm, including the management and when you follow these procedures carefully, it will help you avoid certain problems that are commonly associated with cucumber farming.
PROCEDURES IN CUCUMBER FARMING
Researches show that sandy loam soil is suitable for growing cucumber because it absorbs heat faster than other soils. The root is shallow (only 25-30cm deep) from ground. The soil for cucumber planting should be properly and carefully prepared.
- Clear the farmland where you intend to farm. Remove all stumps and avoid sheds because cucumber needs sunshine.
- Apply manure: These should be done before or after the making beds for your cucumber.
- Bed Making: make bed where you will plant cucumber seed. The height of the bed should be 20cm – 30cm, width: 100cm; spacing between beds 0.5 – 1m.
- Cover the beds with mulching film if you wish. Mulching film is a plastic polythene used for mulching to suppress weeds and conserve water in the soil.
- Make holes/ opening on the mulching film where you will sow your seed, crop grow through the holes created, ensure that the distance between the hole to the other is about 40 – 50cm. This is your sowing point.
- Put irrigation system. eg. Drip irrigation. Irrigation is inevitable is if planting during dry season. Cucumber plants requires water on daily basis. This will help its fruit to add in sizes and tastes. The most common reason why cucumber tastes bitter is due to poor irrigation system during dry season.
Sow seeds on the holes created on the mulching film, one seed per hole. Cucumber seeds germinate quickly. It usually takes 3 – 4days to sprout.
Methods of Sowing: Direct sowing & Sow in Nursery trays or bags.
Direct sowing is a faster method for larger farms. Much labour isn’t needed. It prevents crops from being injured and helps them to develop quickly. Although, (at times) it wastes seeds and is difficult to control the depth of seedling.
Nursing takes a longer time. It requires a lot of labour during transplanting and crops are easily injured. Transplanting should be done after 6 – 10days in the evening by 6pm.
Re-application of Manure:
Spray organic fertilizer after 5 – 6 days of transplanting or 12 – 15days of direct sowing. Repeat the spraying on weekly basis or you can apply chicken droppings every two (2) weeks after sowing. Chicken droppings should be mixed with water and apply at the root of the plant.
Prepare the bamboo stake immediate after sowing. Fix bamboo sticks to raise the ground. Staking is done as soon as the plant grows out enough. Staking prevent the plant from contacting diseases on the ground. It also makes pruning and harvest very easy. When the plant crawl on the ground, one finds it very difficult to prune. During harvest, you could march on the fruits.
is very important. It encourages quick growth and high yield. To prune, remove the 1st to 4th side shoot branches from the nodes. From the 5th branch, after the 1st – 2nd leaf, cut off the other part of each of the branches. It is advisable not to prune if you are not sure of how to go about it.
Harvest when the fruits have reached market size. Harvest when crispy and fleshy. Do not allow them to turn yellow. Fruiting is expected six (6) weeks after sowing. You can harvest every day for small fruits and every 2 days or 3days a week for bigger fruits. Harvest goes on for 3 – 4 weeks.
Black polyethylene mulch (mulching film) cover the bed before planting. and herbicide are used to control between the bed.
However, cucumber are very susceptible to injury from many herbicides.