Cucumbers are another gardening favorite. The crisp, delicious “cukes” are easy to grow and can be used in many salad recipes.
They can also be pickles and stored for later use. The cucumber is a warm-weather crop that matures in about 50–65 days. Cucumbers are in the same family as pumpkins and squash so they require similar care. The plants produce long vines that need lots of room for growth.
If you have a trellis or fence nearby, it is easy to train the vines of your plants to grow upward off the ground.
There are varieties of cucumbers that grow into bushes that take up less space. Cucumbers can be classified as slicing or pickling types. Slicing cucumbers are most often used sliced and added to salads. Pickling cucumbers, as the name implies, are pickled and used later.
Although pickling cucumbers are usually smaller, the larger slicing cucumbers can be pickled after slicing or cutting them into smaller pieces. Cucumbers can cause some people to have gas. Consequently, “burpless” varieties have been developed. Cucumbers are grown in most areas of the world. They come in many colors including green, white and yellow.
Grow cucumbers in beds for best results. This gives them plenty of room for the crawling vines. If you plant your cucumbers near a fence or trellis, start by clearing away all dead plant debris and weeds.
Cucumbers do well in most medium weight soils. Start by adding a three-inch layer of compost or dried manure to the soil. Till the soil to a depth of about twelve inches, mixing the compost or manure thoroughly.
The organic material will provide nutrients to the plants. Cucumbers can also be started inside in pots or growing trays four weeks before you plan to transplant to the outside garden. Plant seeds 1/2″ deep.
Transplant the seedlings when they are about three inches tall. Use a trowel to loosen the soil around the base of each plant. Avoid disturbing the roots. Dig a hole deep enough to accommodate the roots.
Transplants should be spaced 12″ apart. Add a two-inch layer of straw mulch around plants to help retain moisture and discourage weed growth.
Plant cucumber seeds outside after the danger of frost has passed and the soil is about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Plant seeds in rows three feet wide and three feet apart.
Seeds should sprout in 7–10 days. Water your plants regularly, especially when the plants start to flower set fruit. Avoid wetting the flowers as this can lead to flower rot. Keep the soil moist but not wet. Cucumbers are ready to harvest in 50–75 days, depending on the variety and how you intend to use them.
Pickling cucumbers can be harvested when they are 2–5″ long. Larger slicing cucumbers are ready to harvest when they are 6–8″ long. The cucumbers can be separated from the vine by simply pulling or chipping them off with scissors.
The more often you harvest, the more the plants will produce. Cucumbers are high in vitamins A, C, and K. They also contain considerable amounts of phosphorus, potassium, iron and manganese.
Because of the soothing and cooling properties of cucumbers, they are often added as an ingredient in beauty lotions. Sliced cucumbers placed on the eyelids have been shown to reduce the incidence of wrinkles. Cucumbers can also be grown inside in pots.
Use pots six inches or more in diameter. Plant one to three seed in each pot. Place the pots on a sunny window sill and water regularly.
As the plants grow, train the vines along the window sill or make a small trellis out of a square of fencing to provide room for growth. Cucumbers are one of the most popular gardening crops throughout the world.
The ease of growth and prolific production make it a favorite of beginning gardeners. With a little care, you should be able to have a bountiful harvest of this crisp, delicious vegetable.