Every time I offer some knowledge with regards to growing crops for your business, the first question is always, so how long have you been growing the beard?
It’s not really the first, it’s about the 5th question!
They actually want to know the easiest vegetable/fruit they can grow and that’s where the three c’s come in.
Courgettes are by far the easiest in terms of germination, care, maintenance and yield!
But I’m not talking about your average green bog standard courgette.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good standard courgette, sliced and cooking in butter on a BBQ but if you’re trying to get people excited when visiting your restaurant, pub or cafe you want something a little different.
At the Pub I only grow a variety called One Ball/Summer Ball. The courgettes are bright yellow and grow to the size of a large tennis ball. They are perfect for hollowing out, stuffing and roasting in the oven.
I’ve always preferred the taste of a home grow cucumber, fresh from my Fathers greenhouse. Shop imported cucumbers are just rather tasteless!
So last winter I went on a cucumber internet safari and was blown away with different cucumbers varieties you can actually grow!!
Two I’ve chosen to grow this year are Poona Kherra, which is an Indian cucumber with a brown/orange skin. It’s really refreshing to eat but you must remove the skin as its super bitter.
The other is called Crystal Lemon/Apple which I’m sure some of you have already tried. They are very vigorous and produce large amounts of round cucumbers. I pick them when slightly green in colour as the skin becomes slightly tough when yellow.
Slice them like a lemon and pop them in your favourite alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverage.
I’ve also grown three high yielding varieties which are Carmen, Louisa and Bella. The reason for this is I wanted to try and get the pub to no longer buy in cucumbers throughout the year. That way we don’t have to buy them from abroad, save money and it’s just generally better for the environment.
I’ve grown nearly 100 plants in a new poly tunnel and they’ve produced over 500 cucumbers to date.
It’s safe to say they no longer buy in cucumbers and we’ve even had enough excess to sell them inside the pub!
It used to be just Two C’s but then I discovered Cucamelons! These little beauties were said to be the ‘next big thing’ but I’m yet to see them catch on.
I love them; they originate from Mexico which makes them drought resistant. They grow like crazy and produce copious amounts of grape sized fruits which taste like cucumber with a zesty kick.
They are very simple to germinate but can be a little tricky to get going as they can suffer from damping off and drying out but once they are off you can’t stop them.
As you can see from the pictures I tend to grow them up string and let them ramble everywhere.
What can you use them in I hear you ask??
Well, now I’m more than happy to eat them as they are but if someone “forced” a large gin and tonic in front of me I’d chop a couple down the length and throw them in for good measure! They are also lovely in a salad or any fish dish.
You’re not growing them?
If you’d like any more info or tips about the varieties listed here, just pop a comment below!
Now where did a leave my gin and tonic…..!
For more cucumber growing tips, recipes, and further cucamelon tips, head to our cucumber hub page or be sure to check out our courgette hub page. Discover helpful variety advice, recipe ideas & much more.
Having trained at Duchy College in Cornwall, he then spent 10+ years on and off working at The Lost Gardens of Heligan. In between Sam has setup a garden at RHS Hampton Court show, lived and worked on large private garden in New Zealand and worked for the BBC as a Natural history cameraman.
Sam now advises, designs and builds vegetable gardens for businesses, allowing them to grow their own crops. He tends to grow slightly more unusual crops and loves experimenting!