A Mini-Cucumber Garden

Even if your growing plot is short of space, you'll have room for mini-cucumber plants.

| March/April 1981

  • 068 mini cucumber - compact cuke
    Though compact, the mini-cucumber variety will provide you with ample fare for summer salads.
  • 068 mini cucumber - main
    Mini-cucumber plants produce full-sized fruit while using much less space than conventional vines.

  • 068 mini cucumber - compact cuke
  • 068 mini cucumber - main

Although most folks will agree that crisp summer salads laced with mouthwatering slices of fresh-from-the-garden cucumbers are among the high points of any hot season, many gardeners don't grow the crisp treats. After all (the argument often goes), cucumbers grow on vines that'll gobble up cropping ground faster than a sweet-talking land speculator can name a new development. So city people — and even country dwellers with small garden plots — can't afford to grow them, right?

Wrong. Happily, horticultural researchers have been thinking of limited-space gardeners. And, with the introduction of several varieties of  "bush" or mini-cucumbers, a new world has opened to aspiring growers who have a shortage of gardening area.

Despite their name, such plants don't resemble shrubs. Instead, their compact shape is formed by the growth of extremely short vines that bear a profusion of full-sized fruit. With the foliage of a mature plant measuring only two to three feet across, bush cucumbers are ideally suited to intensive gardening techniques whether in a raised bed or a patio pot.

And just how do you grow the "new" plants? Well, the technique is about the same as that for conventional cucumbers. The key element is to remember that all members of this family are heavy feeders: They need plenty of both organic material and water and do best, therefore, in well-conditioned humus-rich soil ... not too sandy, not too dense.

A well-prepared organic plot will definitely encourage cuke production by retaining moisture and providing a uniform, natural release of the required nutrients. So work your garden area by tilling in a generous dose of compost and organic fertilizer.

You can start the seeds indoors (or in a cold frame or greenhouse) for an early crop, or simply plant them outdoors after all danger of frost has passed. Don't rush the season though ... the warmth-loving kernels won't germinate until the subsurface temperature exceeds 50°F.


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