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Garden Help/HowTo

Cucumber Guide

Cucumbers are a member of the cucurbitaceae family, which also includes melons and squashes.

Soil Preparation:

  • Choose a spot that receives 6 to 8 hours of sun per day.
  • Till the soil in early spring to eliminate young weeds and improve the soil texture. Add compost material or manure.
  • A soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0 is recommended.

Planting:

  • A raised bed works well for cucumbers because they like a well-drained soil.
  • Trellises are recommended for vining varieties because they take up less room in the garden and the fruits will grow longer and straighter on a trellis system.
  • The trellis should be about 6 feet tall and should be set up before planting the cucumbers.
  • Plant cucumbers at least 2 weeks after the last frost.
  • Space bush-type varieties plants 18" apart, while the vining varieties need between 2 and 3 feet between plants.
  • Label the variety (use the Homegrown Gourmet plant tag) and date planted.

Watering:

  • Provide at least one inch of water each week, especially when the plants are flowering and fruiting.
  • It is best to water early in the day to give the foliage time to dry and helps prevent disease.
  • Mulch the soil once the plants are established to keep moisture in and help control weeds.

Maintenance:

  • Pick cucumbers when they are about 3-4 inches for the pickling varieties, or 6-8 inches for the slicing varieties. If left on the vine too long, they become bitter.
  • Cucumbers are mostly water. Give at least an inch of water a week, but don't let the fruits sit in wet soil.
  • They are heavy feeders and need a side dressing of compost once the fruits begin to set.
  • Give them another dose of fertilizer about 3-4 weeks after planting (or mid-season).

Supplies Needed:

  • Garden Trowel
  • Garden Hose or Watering Can
  • Gardening Gloves
  • Trellises
  • Cucumber Plants
  • Mulch
  • Compost
  • Fertilizer

Other Information:

  • If the plants are not setting fruits, it could be due to bad weather, lack of pollinators or a lack of female blossoms.
  • The female flowers give rise to the cucumbers. It is possible to aid pollination by transfering pollen from the male flowers onto the center of the female flower using a cotton bud.
  • Do not wait until the cucumbers have turned yellow because they will be over-ripe and the flavor will decline.

Pickling vs. Slicing Varieties -

Cucumbers are classified as either slicing or pickling type. The pickling varieties can be eaten fresh also, but they also hold their texture well in processing.

Pickling - Bush Pickle

Slicing - Burpless, Straight Eight

Container Gardening -

The bush type of cucumbers grow well in containers. Redwood or plastic containers work better than clay because cucumbers need a lot of water and clay pots lose a lot of water out the sides. Black pots will get too hot in the sun, so avoid that color. Make sure the pot has drainage holes in the bottom, and if possible, elevate the pot 4 inches off the ground.

History -

Cucumbers originated in India and have been cultivated for about 3,000 years in Western Asia. Records of cucumber cultivation appear in France in the 9th century, England in the 14th century, and in North America by the mid-16th century.

Did You Know...

Most of the distinct types of cucumber grown today were known at least 400 years ago. Present forms range from thick, stubby little fruits, three to four inches long, up to the great English greenhouse varieties that often reach a length of nearly two feet.

The most popular European and American varieties now have smooth, dark-green skin. Some Russian varieties are short, thick, and have a rough, netted brown skin. Large white varieties of a thick, irregular shape were grown in France in the 19th century for use in cosmetics. That form is supposed to have reached northern Europe from Spain.



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