|Latin name:||Cucumis sativus 'Hokus'|
|Guarantee:||1 year growth and flowering guarantee|
|Leafs all year:||No|
|Harvesting:||July - September|
Gherkin seeds require no previous treatment. You could steep them for 12 hours in lukewarm water to speed up the germination process.
How to Sow
Gherkins are like cucumbers in that they are real heat lovers and can be sown indoors or in a greenhouse from April. Use a mini greenhouse with little peat pots filled with potting compost, or just a simple sowing tray. A mix of seedling plugs and a mine greenhouse is easy too. Try having a source of bottom heat for your mini greenhouse or tray. The seeds will germinate best by 20° C (night and day). Do not allow the seedlings to dry out! Use only 1 seed per pot, pushed in to no deeper than 0.5 cm and stand your mini greenhouse or seed tray in a warm spot, perhaps the windowsill.
Germination will occur within 10 days, depending on the temperature. Reduce humidity after several days – open the slides of your mini greenhouse or perforate any plastic held up with bamboo sticks, over the tray. Once the seedlings are at 10 cm, acclimatise them to normal humidity by uncovering them for an hour longer every day for 5 days. Following this, they can be potted up. Try to keep the temperature at least 20° C for as long as possible as this really does promote good growth. Use a cane next to the seedling when potting up and tie lightly in.
Your gherkin plants can go in the garden or in the greenhouse, once all chance of frost has passed and night temps. are above 15° C, preferably at least 18° C. They can also be grown in pots on the patio. They should be hardened off before moving outdoors – let them acclimatise by standing them in the shade for one hour longer every day for a week. Then replant in a larger planter, three to a pot. A climbing frame will be needed and the pot should be stood in a warm, sheltered spot in full sun.
The choice is yours, whether you want your plants to creep or climb. Climbers are preferred as the fruit is then off the ground where they are prone to rot. Use straw on the ground it you let them creep. Fit large gauge chicken wire from one end of the row to the other if allowing to climb. One and a quarter metres should be high enough and the shoots will attach themselves. Tip: place the chicken wire before you plant!
Gherkins plants are fast growers, give even results and respond well to fertilizer by using for instance Bakker's flowering plants fertiliser, or Bakker's tomato fertiliser. Water a little extra in dry periods and keep the bed free of weeds. Pull up the weeds instead of hoeing to avoid damaging the gherkin roots (gherkin roots do not go deep). The plants will thank you for your care.
To harvest just simply cut your gherkin free from the plant with a sharp knife. Either gather when they are still small, which will encourage more blooms and so more fruit, or wait until they are about 15-20 cm long. Waiting will mean less of a harvest as this takes up more energy. The choice is yours.
Any little hairy warts that may grow on the fruits are harmless and can be rubbed off.
Gherkins are not really climbers and tend to creep first although they do grab on to anything that might help them climb. Take a good look, the tendrils resemble an old-fashioned telephone cable that suddenly starts winding the other way - this is how they move as they do.