Native to Asia, the cucumber is a vegetable that can be used as an ingredient in various cooked or raw recipes. It has the advantage of being easy to grow and only having a few basic requirements in order to reach maturity. The experienced gardener and the beginning gardener will find no difficulty to cultivate and maintain this plant. They will just need to abide by the growing timetable and to equip themselves with the appropriate tools.

Belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, cucumber is a creeping vegetable that produces a green vegetable at maturity, the cucumber. Although it is usually directly grown in a vegetable garden, cucumber can also be grown in containers prior to being planted in the ground. There are four main varieties of cucumber: the cucumber¬† ‘Long Maraicher’, the cucumber ‘Tanja’, the cucumber ‘Marketer’ and the cucumber ‘White’. While the ‘Long Maraicher’ cucumber is popular for its yield and its taste devoid of bitterness, the ‘Tanja ‘ cucumber is appreciated for its digestibility and large size, which can reach up to 13.5 inches (35 cm) in length. ‘Marketer’ cucumber is appreciated for its precocity and cylindrical shape, while the ‘White’ cucumber is renowned for its softness and white colour. Burpless cucumber hybrids and the ‘Sweet slice’ cucumber are disease-resistant varieties, while ‘Yellow submarine’ and ‘Lemon’ cucumbers are original varieties that are well-liked for their colours and unusual shapes

The technique for growing cucumber

To grow cucumber in a container, make a small 3/4 inch (2 cm) deep hole in the pot’s earth, which will have been previously amended with manure, and put in 3 to 4 seeds around spring time. Cover it up with soil and leave it sheltered while watering regularly. Transplanting in the vegetable garden will be performed one and a half month later, taking care to keep a 27.5-inch (70 cm) spacing between seedlings. However, to grow cucumber directly in a vegetable garden, proceed to do so on land that will have been previously tilled and amended with manure. In this case, the ideal time period for planting is in May, during which the strong heat should favour the plant’s growth while helping it to fight off diseases. Make 8-inch (20 cm) deep holes, spaced 3 feet (1 m) apart from each other and plant 3-5 seeds in each of them. Cover up with soil, pack everything well and water thoroughly. Plan for a thinning about ten days later to remove or transplant the new seedlings if more than one seed sprouted. It is also possible to buy potted cucumber seedlings in the trade. Proceed in the same manner as if you were directly planting in-ground in a vegetable garden. In regard to pruning, perform the procedure once the cucumber has five leaves. The main stem is cut above the fourth leaf and do the same is applied to the following stems. It is recommended to only keep four cucumbers per branch to maintain optimum growth. 12 weeks will be sufficient to produce the first fruits which will be harvested as they reach maturity.

The cucumber’s maintenance and treatment against disease

Maintenance of domestically grown cucumber requires the placement of stakes to support the plants’ growth in height, so as to facilitate harvesting and save space. To that end, setting up a wire netting held in place by two poles allows tendrils to climb more easily. The cucumber also appreciates having its based covered with a layer of mulched flax straw in order to retain soil moisture. In addition, it is necessary to clean up the plot of land after harvest by getting rid of the diseased seedlings. These can be incorporated into the composition of compost. Watering is carried out regularly,while making sure to let the ground dry out between waterings and avoiding wetting the leaves. As was previously stated, hybrid varieties are more resistant to disease. Otherwise, the gardener must understand that whitish spots on the leaves of cucumber are an indication of powdery mildew.¬† To remedy this, the treatment consists of applying a fungicide containing sulphur at the first signs of disease. Cucumber exposed to a hot, humid weather can also be subject to another type of attack, downy mildew. This is indicated by the appearance of white and brown down on the stems and leaves which dry out gradually. Fungicide obtained in the trade will settle the problem if treated on time. The cucumber is also vulnerable to the attack of white flies. To remedy this, all it takes is for you to plant pot marigold (herb) nearby as it will drive these insects away.

Some additional tips for growing cucumber

Whenever possible, the gardener should avoid spraying water on the surface of cucumber leaves. Indeed, excess moisture promotes the onset of disease. Drip irrigation systems available in the trade are the most appropriate solution to remedy this potential problem. Similarly, setting up a layer of mulch limits the appearance of troublesome weeds that invade the growing space,¬† thus hindering the cucumber’s normal growth. Furthermore, it is better for the entire plant to harvest the crop immediately without waiting for it to be too ripe. This will be done in the morning to avoid the bitter taste.

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Published in Summer vegetables by Alexander on 07 Sep 2011