Can You Plant Seeds From A Store Bought Cucumber? Cucumbers are one of the most popular summer salad fruits which are used widely in many different dishes. However, when you purchase these plants from the store you will see a heap of seeds in the fruit. So can these seeds be used to grow cucumbers in your own garden?
Cucumber seeds from store-bought fruit can be used to produce a new plant however there is no guarantee that this plant will produce fruit. The reason for this is that hybrid seeds, which are often used to produce commercial cucumber crops, are designed in many cases to produce only female flowers on the plant. Without the presence of a second cucumber variety, there is a reasonable chance that pollination will not occur.
The other problem with hybrid seeds is that they are genetically unstable which means that any seeds taken from the fruit are unlikely to produce an identical fruit in the subsequent generation.
This occurs because hybrids are created by cross-pollinating two varieties to get the specific traits. However, in subsequent generations, when further cross-pollination occurs the genetic makeup is quite different in most cases. This can result in the fruit being quite different.
Why Are Hybrids Created That Produce Only Female Flowers?
Traditional heirloom or open-pollinated varieties of cucumbers are monoecious which means that the plant produces both male and female flowers. The presence of both types of flowers enables the plant to pollinate itself and produce fruit. However, one of the issues that can here is that the appearance of male and female flowers does not always coincide which can result in a low yield in some cases.
To overcome this issue the second type of cucumber known as Gynoecious type has been produced. This type of seed producers only female flowers on the plant though occasionally a male flower may appear.
These types of cucumbers are generally produced from the hybridization of existing seeds and they are advantageous for commercial producers because they maximize the number of female flowers on the fruit. This in turn maximizes the yield that can be produced from that plant.
To pollinate the plants that only produce female flowers a second variety is planted nearby that produces the required male flowers for pollination purposes.
If you purchase F1 hybrid seeds from a seed supplier it is most likely that it will be a Gynoecious type of seed. To ensure pollination the seed supplier will normally mix in a second variety that is there purely for pollination purposes.
I personally would prefer to purchase an heirloom variety rather than a hybrid seed for a couple of reasons. The first reason why is that there is a small chance you may not get any fruit from your cucumber if you happen to select only the hybrid variety of the seed from the packet.
The second reason is that heirloom varieties have the advantage that they can be collected every year and resown which means that you only have to purchase the seeds once.
How To Grow Cucumbers?
Cucumbers are a frost-sensitive plant from the cucurbit family which also includes pumpkin, corn, and zucchini. For these plants to perform well they need relatively warm conditions and plenty of nutrients.
Most gardeners start the plants off in springtime in seed trays though it is possible to plant directly into the garden. I personally do not recommend this because you have greater control over the climatic conditions in a seed tray. Additionally, you can sow the seed earlier in the season.
This is particularly important if you live in a region that has cold winters and relatively short growing seasons. In these regions, I would highly recommend that you consider purchasing a heated propagation tray because this will allow you to get going with your garden much earlier.
The key advantage of heated propagation trays versus just putting a seed tray inside is that the temperature and humidity control is much better which means that your plants will get off to a much better start.
If you don’t currently own one, the product we would recommend is the ipower heated germination kit because it has a humidity dome and a removable seed tray. This seed tray will tend to wear out over a period of time and therefore can be easily replaced extending the life of the unit. Click here to see the latest price on Amazon.
Once you are ready to plant start by filling the seed tray with a good quality seed raising mixture. Plant the seeds at a depth of approximately 0.5 inches (1 to 2 cm). If you are using a modular seed tray we recommend putting 2 seeds in per cell as this will ensure that at least one plant comes up per cell.
If you need to purchase seeds the place that we would recommend seeds now because they have a wide variety of heirloom Seeds and are among the cheapest suppliers in the market.
Grow Your Own Food At Home
In the right conditions, cucumber seedlings will germinate quickly, usually within 7 days. The plants will need to spend 4 to 6 weeks in the seed trays before they are large enough to be planted out in the garden.
Planting Cucumbers Into The Garden
Once the cucumber plants are large enough they should be spaced approximately 2 feet apart in a garden bed that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of sun per day. In terms of soil conditions, cucumbers are relatively heavy feeders that do require rich moist soil that is free draining.
If you are unsure whether the soil has sufficient nutrients it is advisable to add additional compost. It is also advisable to apply a layer of mulch that is approximately 2 to 4 inches thick around the plants, then water in well.
As cucumbers are a trailing vine you have a couple of options in terms of the way that you grow them. As they are a trailing vine they can be allowed to sprawl along the bottom of the bed which provides the opportunity to put a second crop into the bed such as corn as it will not interfere with the growth of the cucumbers.
The other option is to train the cucumbers to grow up a trellis which is useful for a couple of reasons. The first is that it keeps the fruit off the ground. Secondly, you can use the trellis to shade the soil below.
Shade in the height of summer can be extremely advantageous for growing crops such as lettuce as it reduces the chance of the plant bolting.
Caring For Cucumber Plants And Harvesting The Fruit
Once the cucumber plants are in the ground they are generally quite easy to look after as they require little attention except for regular watering. In the height of summer, it is advisable to water the plants at least a couple of times a week to ensure that the new fruit is getting the moisture it needs.
When the plant starts to produce fruit it is important to check it every week and pick those cucumbers that are ready. Regular picking of the fruit will encourage the plant to produce more fruit. When removing the fruit from the plant it is important to ensure that you cut it away from the vine rather than pull it as you will damage the plant.
In terms of deciding when to harvest the fruit, it is best to harvest it when it is small rather than waiting till it reaches the size that you purchased in the supermarket. The reason for this is that cucumbers do not show any signs of color change until the fruit is already past its best as such it is better to eat first and ask questions later.
I hope you found this blog useful. If you have any questions or comments please put them in the section below.
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