Saturday, April 30, 2016

How to Grow Cucumbers

What’s the secret to avoiding bitter Cucumbers?

Cucumbers planted in the garden are very prolific producers and can be great for pickling or eating fresh in salads or just freshly peeled. Cucumber, Tomato and Onion salad in an Italian dressing has always been one of my favorites.
Since it is a warmer season vegetable, cucumbers should be planted, as with most other vegetables, after the last chance of frost.  Check the date on the seed packet for the expected last frost, as it is different across the United States. I keep the USDA’s website as a favorite on my computer for a variety of information.

Planting by seed has always worked best for me. I plant multiple seeds in groups four feet apart and then thin all but the strongest one plant.
Spacing between rows should be at least six feet as the plants can easily grow together. If you are planting so the cucumbers can climb a sturdy fence, I would plant seeds about 4 inches apart and thin to the best plants about one foot apart.

In my home state of Texas, if I am going to plant a second crop I make sure I have plenty of time for the cucumbers to reach maturity prior to the first frost late in the growing season. Cucumbers usually need about 2 months to reach harvesting size.
If you’d like to produce great looking and tasting cucumbers, you’ll need to mulch heavily; approximately four inches of straw,  water regularly; about an inch per week spread throughout the week and harvest before they get about 8 inches long. If you let them grow bigger, they tend to get pithy and dry on the interior.

I fertilize more often at half of the normal rate each time. I fertilize with about one pound per 100 square feet of row and apply it as often as every 2 to 3 weeks. I then water the fertilizer in very well each time. 
A salad cucumber on top and a pickling cucumber on bottom.

You can also scatter finely ground finished compost underneath the plants if you desire, however, this can get cumbersome, as you’ll need to lift the plants to place the compost. You risk plant breakage applying compost this way.

Insect problems consist of cucumber beetles (spotted or striped), spider mites and squash bugs (true bugs). You can identify a problem if you see evidence of chewed leaves, tan colored mottling. The leaves typically turn very crisp, indicating spider mite damage. Control spider mites with a miticide. Mildews can be controlled with fungicides. 

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