Cool as a Cucumber

Cool, crisp cucumbers. Yum! I know that I have written a couple of posts on awesome recipes for what to do with your homegrown cucumbers, but I realized that none of them really went into detail as to growing cucumbers in the garden! We are growing two more cucumber plants in the soon-to-be greenhouse and they have taken off like crazy! Apparently, planting cucumbers after the weather has been warm, increases the chances of having a great second harvest.

Cucumbers come in vine or bush-type, with the viney cucumbers traveling and attaching tendrils to anything they can. I have placed two trellises between the raised gardens in order to coax the cucumbers to climb the trellises rather than take over the entire garden, or even climb outside the greenhouse (before the lining can be included).  The viney cucumbers tend to produce more than the bush type, which is great because the ones we have are vines. Another benefit of having these type of cucumber plants is that a lot of space is saved for the gardens for additional vegetables. The photograph below shows the set-up of the trellis and how well the cucumber plant is climbing over the trellis.

20141011_144735There are TONS of flowers on the cucumber plant – it would be awesome if every flower became a cucumber! But, of course only the female flowers become fruit, and you need to have both male and female flowers in order for pollination to occur. You can see from the photographs below, two that are getting to be a decent size and they are side-by-side. The last photograph shows the cucumbers in comparison to my thumb. Once the cucumbers reach 6-8 inches they are ready to be harvested. Cucumbers are 90% water! They can be kept in the refrigerator after being picked and wrapped in plastic wrap to lengthen storage. Thank goodness we don’t have a pollination issue since the cucumbers are being produced. I hope that when we put the insulation on the greenhouse we have a way for pollinators to make it inside to pollinate. Otherwise, the plants will need to be hand pollinated. Yikes!

20141011_144653

20141011_144702At this rate it won’t be long before I have a couple of cucumbers ready to eat! As with other plants, more vegetables will grow as you pull them off. That means that the plant isn’t wasting energy on keeping a full grown fruit happy and can focus on producing additional fruit. I’ll have to find some more recipes that incorporate cucumber 🙂 Cucumbers like warm weather (over 70F) and do not do well in frost or cooler weather. It’s a good thing that we are building a greenhouse! The insulation should help when the weather turns cooler. Cucumbers are relatively easy to grow – they grow fast and do not require a lot of care. The two cucumber plants were sowed in freshly amended soil, so I won’t need to fertilize for another month or so. It is recommended to fertilize every couple of weeks and I plan to use liquid fertilizer. Keeping the soil moist is a good measure for healthy plants. Having the cucumber plants on trellises keeps the leaves off of wet soil, reducing the likelihood of disease. Our plan for next weekend is to set up the hose system with some drip irrigation hoses to ensure the vegetables are well-watered. Mulching can also help keep moisture locked in on the soil.

Online Resources:

http://bonnieplants.com/growing/growing-cucumbers/

http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/cucumbers

http://www.almanac.com/plant/cucumbers

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