Cucumber

Overview

Cucumbers grow best in areas where you find a long warm growing season of at minimum 65 days. They tend to be sensitive to frost or even light freezing. Cucumbers have a difficult time in areas that are damp and foggy. They tend to be very susceptible to different mildews.


When to Plant

Cucumber vines tend to grow fast and produce hairy stems with large leaves. To save space in your garden, train the vine's tendrils to climb a fence. The first set of flowers are always male. A week after the first flowers, the female fruit flowers will appear and sprout a small elongated cucumber. The modern gynoecious varieties have become popular in recent years because they start bearing fruit as soon as the first flowers appear. These seed packets contain enough male pollen to assure proper fertilization.


How to Grow

Be sure to plant your cucumbers where there is ample space for the vines to sprawl or a growing area for the vines to climb. Plant the seeds in hills approximately 4' apart with about eight seeds per hill. Be sure to thin those seeds to the three best plants when the seedlings reach 4" high. Since cucumbers grow so fast, you should be prepared well in advance. Work a deep planting hole where each hill will be and place a spade full of well-rotted manure with a generous helping of 5-10-10 rock potash or bone meal. Work this into the soil well and then cover in the soil before planting your seeds about 1" deep. You can use this same method if you're trying to grow your cucumbers in patio tubs.


How to Harvest

Your cucumbers should be ready to harvest approximately 50-70 days after planting. Avoid working around the plants when they are moist, as they are very susceptible to disease that spreads when the leaves are wet. Since over 50% of the cucumber is water, it's best to harvest them when they are still juvenile for the best taste. If the fruit starts to turn yellow, seeds will be ripe inside, and the fruit will be bitter and pithy. Be sure to harvest your cucumbers every 2-3 days in the heat of the day as they reach their desired size. If you leave any mature cucumbers on the vine, production will stop, so harvest carefully and remove all old and damaged fruit.


Depending on the variety and size, each plant will typically produce 10-20 fruit for a total of 1-3 kgs of fruit. Every kg of cucumbers will yield approximately 2 litres of pickles.


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