My wonderful neighbour from home took the above picture. She was very very happy about her cucumbers, as she should be: Cucumber’s are delicious. They can be used in salads, pastas, sandwiches and on bagels. Some people like to put them in their water and they are great all on their own. But as delicious as cucumber’s are, they can be a tiny bit tricky for the gardener. There is plenty of things that can go wrong, from pests to improper watering and feeding. These Cucumber Clues can help make cucumbers easy for the novice AND the expert alike! Read this and you can be making your very own cucumber lemonade any time now!(recipe at the link, your welcome!).
Cucumber’s require the soil to be slightly moist all the time. If the cucumber plants are starved for water, they will become bitter and will be too small! And we certainly wouldn’t want that.Once a week deep watering should do the trick. Mulching the soil around the plant also helps to maintain water! It is also important to water the ground around the plants directly rather than spraying the plant down with water. The excess water on the plant can open up the door for disease as well as cause sun damage (the water droplets act as mini magnifying glasses and fry the leaves!).
Any all purpose fertilizer will do for cucumbers! Generally all-purpose fertilizers come in 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 formulas. The first number is for nitrogen, the second is for phosphate and the last is for potassium. Nitrogen helps keep the leaves green and phosphate and potassium will help with fruit growth! You can use either water soluble or granular fertilizer, just be sure to follow the manufacturers instruction when using it.
Cucumbers fall under the sun-LOVING category of plants, along with tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. This generally means that they need eight to ten hours of direct sunlight to yield well. Most of these sun loving plants will produce fruit with seven or eight hours, but they will not yield to their full potential!
Diseases and Pests:
Cucumbers can be susceptible to a number of diseases and pests, as are most fruiting plants. A list is compiled below, and some treatments for each.
SLUGS! Ugh, my mortal enemy. I recently wrote a blog about slugs (and my utter dislike for them) and it contains all of the solutions that I could come up with. Check it out here.
Banded Cucumber Beetles:
More creepy crawlies! These nasty beetles will take after your cucumbers (and PUMPKINS!!) and chew up their tasty flowers and leaves. These can be dealt with using floating row covers (which are usually just screens that surround the plant) but these will need to be removed when flowers show up to allow bees to pollinate them. Kaolin (a spray made from clay) can also be effective, but light insecticide usage might be required for this guy, if they get out of hand!
A white powdery mould on stems and leaves, this mildew can cause major plant damage. The best way to deal with this mildew is to ensure that the plants have good air circulation and sun exposure, as well as making sure you clean your equipment regularly. If the plants are overcrowded, you may be inviting mildew! So ensure they have their space
I hope I have convinced you that cucumbers are not only delicious, but not THAT hard to manage! With the right amount of love (and watering and feeding), your very own cucumbers can become a part of your salad’s and sandwiches (and your cucumber lemonade – seriously it’s awesome!)
~Landon Getz – External Coordinator