Cucumber Varieties

Cucumber Varieties

Read an introduction to cucumber varieties here.

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About Cucumber Varieties

Cucumbers are typically divided into indoor and outdoor types, with indoor types having smooth skins (like those seen in the shops), whilst outdoor cucumber varieties have ridged skins and prickles. Whatever type is grown, I think the flavour of homegrown cucumbers is superior to those commonly found in the shops, with a more concentrated flavour and less watery texture. My favourite types are the smooth skinned short cucumbers, which are sweeter to taste and great for snacks (eaten on their own like raw carrots).

Both indoor and outdoor types perform well when grown under the protection of a greenhouse, polytunnel, or conservatory. This is the easiest and most successful way to grow them, as cucumbers are tender plants that enjoy warm conditions. However, only outdoor types are likely to be successful outside, and they should be sown in sheltered and sunny locations.

There are different shapes and sizes to choose from, and each have their own characteristics:

  • Short indoor cucumbers are ideal for an early harvest
  • Long indoor cucumbers take longer to harvest
    (a combination of short and long cucumbers gives an extended picking season)
  • Mini cucumbers are ideal for pickling
  • Round yellow cucumbers as a novelty to show to family and friends

Cucumbers should be picked at their ideal length and not left on the plants to become overripe, as picking frequently will encourage more cucumbers to set.

The time to sow seed is different depending on whether the cucumber varieties are indoor or outdoor types. Indoor varieties can be sown from February, with the first cucumbers ready from June onwards. Outdoor varieties are sown later from April, with the first harvest towards the end of July. Cucumbers are like other members of the squash family in that they grow best in a rich soil that should be kept moist throughout the growing season.