The cucumber belongs to the cucurbits or the gourd family.
They are usually one of the following plants: cucumber, zucchini, squash, pumpkin, melon or watermelon.
It requires little maintenance and is considered easy to grow.
Cucumber is a spreading or a climbing plant.
Its stem is long and has a heart-shaped leaf shape.
There are two types of cucumber – greenhouse (Parthenocarpy) and outdoor cucumber.
Greenhouse cucumbers produce long, smooth fruits (like in the supermarket) and are easier to grow because they do not need pollination.
That is, every flower that comes out automatically turns into a cucumber.
Parthenocarpy cucumbers sometimes described as self-pollinating, but it’s not true, as unpollinated female flowers will still produce fruit, and because they are not pollinated, you also get seedless cucumbers.
Outdoor varieties – tend to be shorter and fatter – and often have rough skin or thorns.
They need pollination because they produce male and female flowers – but usually this is not a problem because the insects and bees will do it.
The insects visit the male flowers, collecting the pollen and then turn to check the female flowers, and by that transferring the pollen and thus pollination achieved.
Most of the cucumbers take between 50 to 60 days from seed to harvest.
Seeds sprout after 5 – 10 days.
There are 4 types of cucumbers:
Bet alpha- very thin, spineless skin
Slicer- thick skin also for pickling
Dutch – a foot long
Baby- small, less than 15 cm
Buy seeds in the nursery and germinate them.
Sowing season can be from march till June.
It depends if you grow in a greenhouse or outside.
The seeds need a warm planting medium, so if it’s too cold they won’t sprout.
You can keep your seeds at 21°C (70°F) with moisture, heated and protected inside a propagator, or on a warm sunny indoor windowsill.
Harvesting will be from July to October, respectively
Usually, the time from seeds to 10 inches seedlings that can transplanted should take about a month.
If you plant the cucumber plants in a pot, use at least a 1-gallon size, no more than one seedling in a pot.
The planting distance in the soil should be about 20 to 60 cm, it depends if you are trellising or not.
Cucurbits like to spread over a wide area.
How do you know you are overwatering? look at the flowers in the morning and see, if only male flowers grow it indicates that the plant still sees no reason to reproduce.
In this case you can start to reduce the irrigation every day until they appear.
How do you know if there is a Lack of irrigation? The top of the plants will start to wither, especially in the hot noon hours.
Consider that you will need to almost instantly raise your water quantities, when your plants begin to bear fruit.
Irrigation should already be every other day under these conditions of heat, many fruits and well drained medium soil.
If you want to know how to irrigate like professionals, read this post.
Use 25 liters per 1 sq/m (m2) of good quality compost (6 gallons per 10 square feet).
Compost contains minerals such as phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen that will determine the size and quality of the plant.
But the compost is good for only 1 month after planting, so you will need to add more fertilizer.
Slow-release fertilizer that will be added in the initial stage, together with the compost, will guarantee sufficient supply of these macronutrients until harvest.
Incorporated with a micronutrient’s fertilizer applied also before planting, it will cover all the Mineral nutrition the plants need.
Using a pitchfork, cultivator or a tiller, flip the soil with the compost to a depth of 30 cm.
The purpose of this action is to aerate the soil so that the roots will be easier to develop and in addition the assimilation of the compost in the depth of the soil to allow it to start acting.
Vegetable roots and cucumber among them, usually reach a depth of up to 30 cm (1 foot).
If you want to know how professional commercial growers determine when and how much to fertilize, read this post.
To save space and allow access and care of the plants, trellising is used.
The trellising can be done using 3 bamboo sticks, net, or on a wire.
The whole plant can be shaped on one central branch that is wrapped around a wire that descends from above.
Pinch out the tips of sideshoots and pinch out the tips of flowerless sideshoots once they reach 60cm (2ft) long.
Note that you are already finished trellising when planting, because the cucumbers grow relatively quickly.
Most varieties of cucumbers have male and female flowers.
Usually, the first flowers to appear are male flowers that cannot bear fruit.
This is how the plant calls the bees and informs them that it is worth coming.
The male flower – will look just like a regular flower with a stem.
The female flowers appear about a week after the male flowers.
A female flower will look like a flower on a “mini cucumber “.
A case where no female flowers appear indicates that the plant does not find a good reason to reproduce because it has good conditions.
Such a plant will be tall, green and strong with many leaves.
In such a case, the plant should be stressed by reducing the amount of water it receives and withholding nitrogen fertilizer, until female flowers and fruits appear.
Parthenocarpy cucumbers are seedless unless they are pollinated.
The main reason for growing parthenocarpy cucumbers in your garden is that it will guarantee good harvests because most of your flowers will be female and most of those will produce cucumbers without pollination.
With the outdoor non Parthenocarpy cucumbers varieties, you have to make sure the pollination is being made.
But sometimes there are not enough bees or not at all.
In this case, only in the morning hours while the flowers themselves are open, take a small brush and touch it gently inside the male flower, immediately afterwards gently brush inside the female flowers.
This should be done only in the cool morning hours until 10 o’clock, because later the heat damages the male flower pollen.
You can even cut the male flower and attach it to the female flower and let it stay there, if you have enough male flowers.
A few days later, you will see that the flower is embalmed and the cucumber will slowly begin to develop and grow.
Failure to do so will result in the cucumber not developing and remaining small, turning brown and then falling off.
The cucumber will only be slightly developed, deformed or round shape, if it is not thoroughly pollinated (uneven pollination).
However, deformed cucumber can be a result of high temperatures during the pollination stage, water or fertilizer deficiency and also potassium deficiency.
Harvest and yield
If you give the cucumber all the conditions it needs, it can start to yield after a month and a half from planting and after two and a half months from sowing.
Cucumbers are plants that continue to regenerate and produce flowers.
You just have to make sure that the pollination is done properly (with the outdoor varieties).
When harvesting, see that the fruits are uniformly green and firm not yellow, fat and soft.
The cucumber is eaten before the vegetable ripens, if we let it ripen, it will be huge, with seeds, more watery and less tasty.
The cucumbers should be picked before they become soft and yellow, about three months after planting.
You can also pick it early when the cucumber is still small, if you want to make pickles.
The most delicious cucumbers are actually the young and the small, although it is tempting to wait for them to grow and be photographed with a giant cucumber, in fact the large ones are considered less tasty and more bitter.
After around 3 months the plants weaken and it’s time to plant a new cycle of cucumbers.
Cucumber, like many vegetables, is attacked frequently by pests and diseases.
Here are the most common:
- leaf miner
- spider mites
- white flies
- slugs and snails
- fusarium wilt
- powdery mildew
- downy mildew
- leaf blight
- botrytis blight
- sooty mold
- damping off
Recommended Cucumber Seeds:
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