The Great Cucumber Growing Challenge

This 10-step plan will help you become a master at cucumber growing in just one season.

| June/July 2007

  • Cucumber Varieties
    Cucumber variteties come in many shapes, sizes, flavors and growth habits.
    Photo courtesy RICK WETHERBEE
  • Cucumber Sizes
    Compare the enormous ‘Yard Long Armenian’ to the American ‘Straight Eight.’
    Photo courtesy WALTER CHANDOHA
  • Cucumber Beetle
    Cucumber beetles and the bacterial wilt they carry can be avoided by using a floating row cover.
    Photo courtesy DAVID KUHN/DWIGHT KUHN PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Cucumber Seedling
    Plants should be covered at all times from seedling to harvest, except for a few days when blossoms appear to allow pollination.
    Photo courtesy DWIGHT KUHN PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Making Pickles
    Anyone who can boil water can make pickles — no special equipment required.
    Photo courtesy ISTOCKPHOTO/EMISTA
  • Cucumber Trellis
    Varieties with long vines benefit from the assistance of a trellis, which also can serve as a support for a row cover.
    Photo courtesy DAVID CAVAGNARO
  • Basket of Cucumbers
    Try to pick all the ripe cucumbers, because plants holding mature fruits will stop producing new ones, and rotting cucumbers can become a source for disease.
    Photo courtesy DWIGHT KUHN PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Cucumber Growth Habit
    Cucumbers grow quickly during summer’s longest days. As day length declines, allow extra time for later plantings to mature.
    Photo courtesy WALTER CHANDOHA
  • Ground Grown Cucumbers
    Many cucumber varieties can be grown on the ground in rows, but try to allow 5 feet of mulched space between each row.
    Photo courtesy DWIGHT KUHN PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Cucumber Challenge
    Follow these 10 steps and watch your score grow along with your knowledge.
    Photo courtesy RICK WETHERBEE

  • Cucumber Varieties
  • Cucumber Sizes
  • Cucumber Beetle
  • Cucumber Seedling
  • Making Pickles
  • Cucumber Trellis
  • Basket of Cucumbers
  • Cucumber Growth Habit
  • Ground Grown Cucumbers
  • Cucumber Challenge

Cucumbers are easy to grow, but coaxing your version of a perfect crop from the garden takes strategy and organization. The exuberant vines are prone to producing all at once, so planting dates must be carefully planned, and you will need a way to preserve the cukes you don’t eat fresh. Most gardeners must defend their plants from yellow and black cucumber beetles, and when the fruits are ready, it’s best to gather them every day.

In the kitchen, you’ll need to courageously match cucumbers’ cool, crisp flavors with bolder herbs and spices, and the end of the season should find you with plenty of homegrown pickles and a nice stash of saved seeds.

Think you can do it? Sure you can! We’ve divided the features of a fantastic cucumber season into 10 steps, and outlined the surest routes to success within each one.

Step 1: Try Various Types

You can stick with old favorites or try something new, which is easy when it comes to cucumbers. The main point is to diversify in terms of cucumber size, shape, color, growth habit and flavor. A word to the wise: pickling cucumber varieties can do double duty in salads and sandwiches, but slicing varieties often make second-rate pickles.



Step 2: Match Supply to Demand

You want to grow enough cucumbers, but not too many. With most varieties, you will need at least three plants of each variety to ensure good cross-pollination and fruit set. And, because cucumbers decline after they’ve made their main crop, you will probably want to do multiple plantings, several weeks apart. Here’s your cheat sheet on the numbers:






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