Sunday, May 30, 2021

How to grow cucumbers-in pots or in the garden

Cucumber vines on trellis in the August garden
Sunday, May 30, 2021

Cucumbers are a tropical plant and love heat.  They should be started indoors 4 weeks prior to the last frost (mid March in our Zone 6) and transplanted outside after all danger of frost has passed.  They can also be directly sown into the garden in the summer.  You can purchase transplants at nurseries or big box stores.  You can plant into July and have fruits from August to frost.

Cucumbers have been around for thousands of years and originally from India.  The cucumber arrived in Europe at least 2000 years ago.  The Romans loved them.  Christopher Columbus brought the cucumber with him to Haiti in the 1400‘s and seeds were likely aboard the first ships in Virginia in the 1600’s.

Cucumbers are a good source of potassium, antioxidants like beta carotene, lutein, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K.  It also has a diuretic properties.  Cucumber nutritional info  Cucumbers have a sweet, refreshing taste.  They are popular in salads, smoothies, and juices.

Cucumbers should be planted in full sun with rich soil and consistent moisture.  Cucumbers can be grown in pots or in the garden bed.   You can let them run or train them to grow on a trellis.  If growing in soil, plant 4 seeds in hills 3-4‘ apart and thin to the strongest two.  I plant mine around a trellis to use the vertical space. 

In my garden, cucumbers have never been bothered with pests or disease.  They are a seemingly carefree vegetable that produces abundantly. 

If growing green varieties, harvest before the fruits turn yellow.  Early fruits have less seeds and have no bitterness.  Frequent harvesting also encourages the vine to grow more fruits.  Follow the seed packet instructions for harvesting of other colors of cucumbers.

If growing in pots, look for patio, dwarf, bush, or compact in the description.  Some small varieties include Lemon, Suyo, Salad Bush, Fanfare, Sweet Success.  One vine of Salad Bush was all we needed to have enough cucumbers to make pickles for the year for my husband and for salads for me.  I also love adding cukes to my smoothies and snacking on them right off the vine.  
Grow your own smoothie and juice garden
Decorative container gardening for edibles
Make your own pickles without a store bought seasoning mix

2 years ago, I started my seedlings in coir pods at the end of May.  I planted them out into the garden in mid June.   I planted seeds for a yellow that can weigh up to 5 pounds (Jaune Dickfleishige), a red (Hmong Red), and 1 white cucumber into the garden around a trellis.  The white is a small fruit which is great for a single salad or smoothie.  All did quite well.  The large cucumbers will last for months justing sitting on a counter.

Last year, I planted my seeds directly into the garden in early June.  I grew a white and two greens.  The white ones were producing fruits in early July.  They gave me more than I could eat.  Cucumbers grow and produce fast in hot, humid weather.

This year, I started them in peat pods indoors in early April and transplanted outdoors 2 weeks ago after hardening them on the back patio for a couple of weeks.  I am growing 2 White cucumbers.  It should be all I need for pickling and snacking.  They are already flowering.

Fertilize regularly and keep evenly moist.  Do not let soil completely dry out.  This will result in bitter or hollow fruits.  Each plant produces both male and female flowers.  The first flowers will likely be males; they are the ones that have a long thin stalk with the flower on the end.  Don’t be surprised or worried when the first flowers fall off without fruiting.  When the female flowers appear, you will get baby fruits.
Summer garden tips

Don't forget to save seeds from your best producer for next year's garden!
Seed saving-fun, easy and a cost saver

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