Introduction: How to Grow Cucumber Indoors
My family and I loves cucumbers and its a great summer fruit. However with limited space, I have to grow them indoors by the window. And with a limited budget to match, I repurposed a towel rack into a cucumber trellis and an old bucket as a pot. You will need the following items
standing towel rack
18 liter (4.7 gallons) empty bucket
1 bag garden soil or potting mix (enough to fill the bucket)
Strings or garden wires to support the cucumbers when they grow
A large plastic bottle as a simple drip irrigation (cucumbers need constant watering)
Air regulating valve (the type you use in an aquarium)
Rubber tube to link the the plastic bottle to the pot.
PVC glue gun
Step 1: Preparing the Pot
Using a hand drill, make holes at the bottom and the sides of the bucket for drainage and air ventilation.
If you have an existing flower pot, you can skip this step.
Fill the pot with soil or potting mix.
Step 2: Preparing the Drip Bottle
Cucumber plants need consistent watering especially during the fruiting period to ensure a uniformed growth of the cucumber fruit. Using a drip irrigation bottle is also handy if we are not around to water them regularly. I used an old soft drink bottle.
First, drill a hole in the cap big enough to fit the air regulating valve.
Glue the valve in place with a hot glue gun. Let it dry.
At the bottom of the bottle, punch a tiny hole for air to go in when you tip the bottle upside down. If you don't do this, the bottle will collapse due to the the negative pressure inside during dripping.
Step 3: Setting Up the Trellis
Place the standing rack as close as possible towards the window.
If your standing rack comes with a parallel bar at the bottom, place your pot on top of the bar. This way, you can see excess water that flows out from the bottom of the pot and moisture will not accumulate at the bottom and damage the flooring.
Place a dish at the bottom of the pot to collect excess water.
Place your drip bottle on top of the pot and secure it with strings.
If the bottle is too far away from the pot, use the rubber tube to channel the water from the bottle to the surface of the soil.
Step 4: Planting the Cucumber
Before you plant your cucumber, it's best to know what variety you are planting. Some cucumber varieties are suitable for container gardening like the Spacemaster 80. While other cucumber varieties may not suitable or would require constant trimming to limit its size. For my indoor garden, I planted the Spacemaster 80 variety.
There are many ways to plant a cucumber. You can germinate it in a small container before transplanting it into the pot. Or you can sow it directly into the pot. For me, I sown the seed directly into the pot.
Water daily to keep the soil moist and slowly watch it grow!
Step 5: Troubleshooting
Planting indoors isn't problem free. We still do get some pests harassing our plants albeit lesser. Here I've listed out what I have experienced and hopefully can be of use.
1. Droopy leaves
Too dry or lack of water. Your cucumber plant isn't getting enough water it requires. Increase the amount of water you provide for your cucumber plant or frequency. If you are using drip irrigation, open the valve larger to allow more water flow into the pot.
2. Fruit flies and gnats.
Yes, these pests can find its way indoors too. The best method for me so far is using fly paper. Stick them around the pot with tape. It may not eliminate all, but it's a form of population control.
3. Identifying male and female flowers
A single cucumber plant has both male and female flowers. Out in the open, you have bees to help you polinate. But indoors, you'll have to hand polinate them. Male flowers usually bloom before female flowers, but don't worry about lack of pollen because there are usually more male flowers than female flowers. Female flowers have an undeveloped mini cucumber behind its flower, while a male flower does not. While some people may suggest to look from the top, but I have experienced what looks like a female flower from the top, but behind the petals I didn't see any mini cucumber.
4. Hand pollinating
Once you have identified the male flower, use an artist brush to brush the center of the male flower to dislodge some of the pollen onto the brush, and then gently brush the pollen onto the female flower.
5. Heavy fruits.
Occasionally you may get a fruit or two growing in awkward places and in need of extra support. Just use a plastic string or a garden tie, to tie it to the standing rack for extra support.
Thank you for reading and happy gardening!