Many beginners in gardening are frightened when they hear some new technical terms on the subject, and as a result do not dare to some vegetables. Sprouting is one of these terms, but it is a simple maintenance procedure that even beginners do not have to fear. Or maybe you already know this from the tomatoes, but did not know that thinning is also feasible for cucumber plants? But do you need to thinning cucumbers or not necessarily? We’ll explain what it’s all about, why it’s beneficial, and exactly how you go about it.
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Why you should thin out cucumber plants
The so-called stingy shoots are side shoots on the plant that grow from the leaf axils. They are usually not fruit-bearing, and if they are (as in the case of tomatoes, for example), the size and quantity of fruit turn out to be smaller, and not only on these side shoots, but also on the main plant. This is simply because the plant has to provide nutrients to a larger plant mass. But that’s not all: more branching also means more leaves and other plant parts that cast shade. This means that not as much sunlight can penetrate, which of course affects the quality and quantity of the fruit. Moisture also evaporates more slowly, which increases the risk of fungal diseases.
So when you prune the cucumber, the main plant stays stronger, resulting in larger and tastier fruit. The plant is kept under control, which is very important and advantageous especially when you pull it up on a climbing support .
Sprouting cucumbers – instructions
Same term, different procedure – it’s not quite the same as with tomatoes . While thinning with them should be repeated about every week, with the cucumber plant it is necessary only once. Typically, only cucumber plants that grow up a climbing aid are thinned, but free-growing cucumber plants can also benefit (but then more often):
Cucumber plants with climbing aid
The lower transverse shoots
- You can prune out cucumbers by removing the lower side shoots to about 60 inches above the ground. You also pinch off buds in the process. While these parts of the plant are still young and tender, you can do this with your fingers. Older shoots are tougher and are better cut off with pruning shears.
- The purpose of this thinning is to prevent the formation of cucumber fruits that would lie on the ground due to low height. Rot due to soil moisture and a pest infestation of vermin , which is on the ground, is thus prevented and watering without wetting the plant becomes easier.
The tip of the cucumber plant
- You can then also cut the top of the plant to prevent it from growing upwards.
Staking cucumbers without climbing aid
Scythe out the plants without climbing help more regularly. For this purpose, you can cut off a few side shoots every now and then, for example, when you are in the process of watering the cucumbers or harvesting them. You should do this because the plant will naturally weaken if it keeps sprouting. If you keep it compact, you can enjoy an uninterrupted harvest throughout the season. Proceed like this:
- Check the plant for pickles. If two fruits and two leaves have formed on one shoot, you can pinch off this side shoot.
- Also, track these side shoots before you shorten them. If they also received new shoots and formed fruit, you can cut the tip of the shoot above the first cucumber and the first leaflet.
- When capping side shoots, be sure not to accidentally cut off the main shoot!
Note: Theoretically, you can grow outdoor cucumbers randomly as long as the available space allows (make sure they don’t overgrow and thus interfere with other plants). However, keep in mind that in this case there might also be some crop breaks and fertilize them appropriately. Still, remove the lower side shoots, as described above, for the reasons already mentioned.
In the greenhouse
If you’ve ever cultivated cucumber plants without exhausting them, you already know that they can get quite an imposing size. Of course, this is less practical in a greenhouse, where space is rather limited. There, it makes sense to let only one or two shoots of the plant grow tall and to remove all other side shoots regularly.
What else you should pay attention to
It is important that you do not injure the main shoots of your plants too much when you prune the cucumbers. Pruning wounds are inevitable, of course, but it is better to keep them small, that is, to make the cuts at the earliest possible stage of growth of the new shoot, when they are still tender and thin. If the shoots are already thicker, be sure to use sharp scissors (ideally disinfected) and cut straight. Remember that lacerations are the ideal conditions for the penetration of pathogens such as mold spores.