Cucumber Growing Guide

by Heather Stone

Boston cucumber on the vine.

photo courtesy of pixabay

Once the warm weather hits it’s time to start thinking about planting cucumbers. Nothing beats a fresh cucumber straight from the vine. Cucumbers are fairly easy to grow and are an excellent choice for the new gardener.

 

How to Grow

Cucumbers are very frost tender so don’t plant seed or transplant starts until two weeks after your last frost date or when soil temperatures reach at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Your soil should be well-drained and fertile. Work 1-2” of compost into the top 4-6” of your soil before planting.

 

Pick an area of your garden that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight. If days regularly reach temperatures of 90 degrees or more provide some afternoon shade.

 

Plant seeds in groups of 4-6, 1/2” below the soil surface in rows or hills 3’ apart. Most cucumber seeds germinate in 4-7 days. Providing a trellis for the plants to climb frees up garden space and improves air flow around the plants reducing fungal and bacterial diseases. Trellising also keeps the fruits off the ground away from moisture and critters and makes them easier to harvest.

 

Cucumbers are themselves 95% water so moisture is of key importance when growing cucumbers.  Cucumbers need at least 1” of water a week.  If plants inadequate moisture the fruit will often develop a bitter taste. To help retain moisture and keep the weeds down place mulch around your plants.

 

Harvesting

Cutting a cucumber off the vine.

photo courtesy of pixabay.

Pick cucumbers when they have reached their mature length, depending on the variety, and before they begin to turn yellow. Cut or gently twist the fruit from the vine using two hands so as not damage the plant. When the weather gets warm, check plants daily for ripe cucumbers. Pick often so plants continue to produce. Pick fruits in the early morning for the best flavor and texture. Cucumbers will keep for 7-14 days in the refrigerator.

 

Varieties

We carry four varieties of cucumber seeds here at BBB Seed. Each is excellent and deserve a place in the vegetable garden.

 

Spacemaster 80

Spacemaster 80 is an excellent compact cucumber variety. At only 18-24 inches this short but hardy cucumber is a great choice for the small garden or for growing in a container. The dark green fruits reach 7-9 inches in length, have great flavor and are never bitter. A heavy yielder this cucumber is also resistant to mildew, scab and cucumber mosaic virus.

 

Boston Pickling

Boston Pickling cucumbers bear small, blocky fruits with firm flesh and tender skin that are ideal for making all types of pickles. This long-standing variety, first available in the 1800s is also great used as a slicing cucumber when allowed to reach full size.

 

Marketmore 76

Marketmore 76 is one of the finest slicing varieties on the market. A standard for the home garden. These vigorous plants produce 8” dark green, delicious fruits.

 

Suyo Long

An heirloom variety from northern China, Suyo Long grows to an amazing 10-18” long. They are almost seedless, burp-less and incredibly heat resistant. They are great for slicing and fresh eating.

 

 

 

BRING MORE SWEET SMELLS INTO YOUR LIFE

By Engrid Winslow

Photo courtesy of Joe Winslow

Do gardeners love fragrance because they are gardeners or are they gardening because they enjoy fragrance? It’s sort of a “chicken and the egg” concept, but no gardener can deny that growing plants is a sensory experience. Whether it’s brushing against basil or tomatoes while harvesting or inhaling the smell of a rose, those of us who garden seek out sweet (even unusual) smelling plants. If you enjoy the spicy scent of marigolds or the heady aroma of peonies then you surely want to bring fragrant flowers and plants into your life.

Fragrance can bring back memories or promote relaxation. Lavender is the most well-known fragrance added to various products that help us relax and even fall asleep.  The best way to bring fragrant flowers into your garden is to plant them where the fragrance can be enjoyed when you are outdoors. Place them near walkways, front and back doors, benches and under bedroom windows so the smell can be appreciated. Also, consider the seasons when they bloom for year-round enjoyment.

Fragrance in flowers falls into 4 major categories: Floral, Fresh, Spicy and Woodsy are the primary scents. Floral smells are sweetly fragrant and include flowers such as stock, lilies, sweet pea, alyssum, lily of the valley and phlox. If you like spicy then be sure to include marigolds, sage and carnations. Fresh scents include lavender and mint while you can add the woodsy smell with rosemary and thyme.

There are public gardens, that were designed with fragrance in mind and in honor of the blind, that are worth a visit if they are near you. If not, then just notice what you are smelling as you walk your neighborhood and garden centers. Sometimes a smell will surprise you, require investigation and then add to your home garden.

A TRIO OF MORNING GLORIES TO WELCOME SPRING

By Engrid Winslow

Morning Glories are one of the easiest annuals to start from seed. In some areas, they will re-seed from last years dropped seed and some varieties may even be perennial in mild climates. After an overnight soak in water, plant the seeds about 1/2 inch deep and then stand back and watch! Best started in fertile soil with adequate moisture during germination and early growth, morning glories can produce vines up to 15 feet long and will clamber over gazebos, fences and trellises with their twining limbs. Some gardeners even grow them up a downspout and along a roof line or up into the limbs of a tall tree. They can be so vigorous as to choke out other plants nearby and can be vigorous re-seeders which grow best in average soil and full sun. They are called “morning glory” because they bloom early in the day and the petals deflate and fall off in the evening. The Morning Glory was first cultivated in China for its medicinal uses, due to the laxative properties of its seeds. It was introduced to the Japanese in the 9th century, and they were the first to cultivate it as an ornamental flower. The Japanese have led the world in developing varieties and the colors range from blue and pink to red, purple, lavender, white and even brown. The flowers are attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.

Tag for the Heavenly Blue Morning Glory seed packet.

Heavenly Blue Morning Glory (also called Clarke’s Heavenly Blue) blooms with 5-inch flowers all summer and is an heirloom variety dating back to the 1920’s. It is a lovely blue with a white center. These are one of the most easily recognized and popular of all morning glory varieties and can be up to 12 feet long.  The foliage is an attractive heart shape.

Grandpa Ott’s Morning Glory bears velvety deep-purple flowers with red stars at their center. This self-sowing annual was originally grown by Grandpa Ott, a Bavarian immigrant, who lived on a 40-acre farm in St. Lucas, Iowa and was preserved by the family in conjunction with the Seed Savers Exchange. This one can climb to 15 feet tall if given support to grow on. Grandpa Ott’s grows very quickly, spreads easily and looks stunning. It will also adapt to part shade.

Tag for the Grandpa Ott's Morning Glory seed packet.

Although called “morning glory” the Moonflower will start to bloom in the late afternoon and close in the morning light. If the day is overcast or cool and cloudy they may stay open for a longer period. Moonflower is fragrant enough to perfume the air within 6 feet of the blossoms and loved by hummingbirds and night moths, including the large Sphinx Moth. The blooms are 5-6 inches across and the vines can grow up to 20 feet. They are native to tropical and subtropical regions of the New World, from northern Argentina north to Mexico and Florida.