Nadia wasn’t lying — you really can grow cucumbers on your terrace, balcony, or window box. If you’re really bold, you can even try to grow them fully indoors (more on that shortly).
But first you need to know that cucumber plants grow fast, and they grow big. They’re in the cucurbitacea family, the same family as zucchinis and pumpkins. Picture that scene in Cinderella where her fairy godmother taps a pumpkin with her wand, and, shazam, it grows into carriage. Cucumber plants grow just about that fast. You could go away for a weekend with a sweet little seedling and return home to Little Shop of Horrors.
Big and fast-growing means you can’t crowd the plant. It’ll need a nice big container and stakes or a trellis to climb. If you have cucumber plants indoors near furniture, the vines will reach out and wrap around your chairs, so watch out. But all that growth means something else as well: SWIFT SATISFACTION. Though it’s certainly nature as much as nurture, when you have a plant that goes gangbusters like that, you feel like an all-star plant parent. New shoots, new flowers, new fruit? You’re welcome, plant. You couldn’t have done it without me. Cucumbers give you months of that kind of revelry.
Let’s get back to cucumbers on your balcony versus cucumbers in a corner of your living room. Cucumbers require insects — bees in particular — for pollination. No pollination, no fruit. That’s a bit of a problem if you’re trying to grow cucumbers indoors. But AH HA! There is an EXCEPTION. Certain varieties of cucumbers have been bred to be “parthenocarpic.” Meaning they produce cucumbers even if the female flowers aren’t pollinated. If you’re growing indoors, that’s the type you want. Here are a few parthenocarpic varieties to consider:
Indoor or out, the care for your cukes is the same. Cucumbers are a warm-season vegetable, so this is the time of year to grow them (in spring and fall, low temperatures cramp their style, and frost kills them completely). They also like sunshine, so pick a sunny spot. Plant them 1/2 an inch deep. Keep them moist but not swampy.
You should start with about five seeds per container. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, pick two and cut the others off at the soil with scissors. When those remaining two are about ten inches tall, pick the one that looks like the winner and cut the other off. You’ll see in a few weeks — one cucumber plant is all you can fit in a single container. Have fun!