From the Desk of Ed Hume: Planting Cucumbers

May 10, 2010 at 12:38 AM Leave a comment

If you’re in the process of choosing which cucumber varieties you are going to include in your garden, don’t fret.  I have some ideas of varieties that merit consideration.  Whether it’s the Yard-long, burpless, round, slicing, or pickling cucumbers, there are many wonderful varieties that grow and produce abundantly in this climate.  Don’t be too anxious to plant them outdoors, be certain to wait until all danger or frost has passed.

Relatively easy to grow, cucumbers are exceptionally popular vegetables to slice and use in salads, pickling, or vegetable trays with dips.  Myrna makes a refreshing summer salad which is simply a combination of sliced onions, cucumbers, and sweet rice vinegar.  She lets the combination soak for about 24 hours before serving, and when refrigerated it lasts for days.

Cucumbers grow and produce best when grown in full sun in soil that is well drained.  In fact, they are often grown on hills (raised soil) for best drainage.  This is also an excellent crop to grow as a vine on a trellis or fence.  When grown in this way the fruit usually develops a straight, more uniform shape.

Like squash and pumpkins, cucumbers are a warm weather crop, so do not try to seed them outdoors until the soil has thoroughly warmed up.  If you are anxious to get them started, you can sow the seeds indoors 2 to 3 weeks early and then plant the newly started seedlings outside after the temperatures have improved.

Cucumbers are fast-growing, prolific plants, so take time to properly prepare the soil by adding organic humus in the form of compost and/or processed manure and a complete organic vegetable garden fertilizer.

The cucumbers develop rather quickly, so it’s important to pick the fruit carefully and regularly for a continual harvest.  Also, be sure to water them regularly as the cucumbers develop in order to prevent mildew and overall decline.  Plant flowers nearby to attract bees for pollination purposes.

The favorite variety at the Hume household is the “lemon” cucumber.  The fruit looks like a small round lemon instead of a cucumber.  This is a wonderful sweet-flavored variety.  Myrna stresses that it must be picked when it is light-to-medium yellow as it looses it’s sweet taste if you let it get too ripe.

Another favorite is the variety “Muncher.”  It produces smooth, nearly spineless, medium green burpless fruit six-to-nine inches long.  It is a Beit Alpha type which are very prolific and tender.

Olympian Hybrid is a very prolific hybrid slicing variety, which has good flavor and texture even when it’s 10 inches long.  It is resistant to many cucumber diseases.  It’s considered a good choice for home gardens.

If you’re looking for a pickling cucumber, use the variety “Tendergreen.”  Pick the fruit when it’s small for pickling, otherwise it will develop fruit up to 8 inches or more.

The variety “Spacemaster” is a compact bush variety, ideal for those that have just a small garden space.

Additional directions for planting and harvesting your cucumbers can be found on the backside of the seed packet of each of these varieties of cucumbers.

Happy gardening!

-Ed

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