Grow Cucumbers At Home
If you are looking for an easy to grow, versatile addition for your vegetable garden, consider cucumbers. Cucumbers are heavily productive, heat-loving and relatively low maintenance. Although they originated in India, over the millenia cucumbers have been adopted by cultures around the world mostly for fresh eating and pickling. Like so many other veggies, fresh-from-the-vine cucumbers are impossible to beat…which is why you should grow them at home.
Which One To Buy
Choosing cucumbers for your garden requires a bit of forethought. How do you like to eat them? All of the named varieties of cucumber can be boiled down to two categories: slicing and pickling. Those in the “slicing” category are typically long and straight and juicy with thin, smooth, non-bitter skin. Slicers are the ones you see in the produce aisle at the store. “Picklers” are often short and bumpy with dry flesh, and the skins are often bitter.
Consider Your Space
Another way that cucumbers may be categorized is by the size of the mature plant. Cucumbers are vines, and as such can grow quite large over the course of summer. Vining varieties are the most productive over the course of the growing season. If you have limited space, look for a “bush” or “patio” type. These types have compact growth habits suitable for growing in small gardens or containers. ‘Spacemaster’ is a good compact slicer. ‘Picklebush’ is a good dwarf pickler.
Here’s How They Grow
Cucumbers thrive in hot weather, and require consistent moisture. They prefer a slightly alkaline soil (pH around 7.5). Plant them a few weeks after the average last frost date. Work a generous amount of compost into the garden, and space the seeds or seedlings according to the grower’s recommendation. Give vining types a fence or trellis to climb, to keep them corralled and keep the fruit clean. Give them plenty of water (an inch or more per week), and mulch them well to avoid wet/dry cycles that can lead to poor fruit set, funky shaped fruits and bad tasting cucumbers.