Cucumbers, better known as cukes, need plenty of space to grow deep into the ground and lots of sun. Cucumber plants should be planted away from moisture-robbing plants such as bushes, trees or other large plants.
Noted most for their use in salads and pickling quality, cucumbers provide a fresh, crisp addition to appetizers, cold soups and sandwiches. Surprisingly, cucumbers are low in calories, but high in Vitamin K and potassium as well as fiber in the cucumber peels.
How to grow the best plump cucumbers in your garden
1. Plant seeds on small hills about 4-6 inches in height and in rows about 3 feet apart. Cucumbers need plenty of space as well as drainage to produce a large plump yield.
2. It is recommended to use a cage, small trellis or wooden stick to train the vine tendrils to attach and grow upward instead of across your garden.
3. If planting several plants, then drop a couple seeds every 12-14 inches and thin plants once leaves are visible.
4. Cover seeds with about an inch of soil and pat gently with a hoe or shovel.
5. Fertilize cucumber plants often to ensure you receive the best yield and quality of cucumbers. Begin when you plant the seeds, then again when vines reach 10 inches or so. You can use commercial or organic fertilizer.
6. Plant lettuce between cucumber plants to maximize your garden space and crops.
7. Water cucumber plants weekly with a good soaking if rainfall is infrequent in your area.
Cucumber plants produce 2 flowers before you’ll see the emergence of the cukes. The first flower will drop off, followed by another flower which will then be followed by the fruit itself. Expect to see emerging green cucumbers after 60-75 days of planting the seeds.
Harvest cucumbers once they reach optimal size, length, and dark green in color; however, cucumbers that begin to turn yellow will be over-ripe and lose their flavor. Store cucumbers in your refrigerator’s crisper or use immediately in your dinner salad. Cukes will remain fresh in a refrigerator for several days, but only a couple days on a kitchen counter. Consider donating your extra yields to a local food pantry, share with your neighbors and friends or sell at a local farm market.
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Pic by knottyboy.