Growing Cucumber

June 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

Cucumbers have been in cultivation for at least 3000 years. Originating in India, it is believed to have been introduced to Europe by the Romans.

Cucumbers grow best when allowed to sprawl along the ground in the garden. Secondary roots will develop along the vine at the junction between the vine and the leaf and are a source of additional nutrients.

Cucumbers contain water, caffeic acid, and vitamin C. The skin contains fiber and various other necessary minerals. These include magnesium, potassium, and silica.

As with tomatoes, cucumbers bought in local supermarkets are little more than a flavorless sponge. Best to grow your own.

Sowing

From end of March through April, indoors: Use small pots or a modular plug tray, and fill with a good quality seed compost. Using the rounded end of a pencil, make two holes near the center of the pot. Place one cucumber seed into each hole, then back fill with compost and water.

Move to a warm windowsill. Cover the pots or trays with a sheet of glass or perspex to maintain humidity.

Cucumber germinates quickly and within a week the new seedlings emerge. Remove any covering. Keep well watered and additionally feed with a half strength liquid fertiliser once a week. When they have 2-4 leaves they can be hardened off for a couple of weeks and then transplanted.

In May and June the seeds can also be planted directly in the soil outdoors, in pockets containing 4 to 5 seeds.

Maintenance

Cucumber plants require well drained soil. Like other members of the cucurbita family, they are big eaters. Provide plenty of fertilizer high in nitrogen. Switch over to a more balanced fertilizer, after the flowers begin to bloom. Regular feedings of fertilizer will significantly help the health of the plant and the size of the harvest. Make sure to provide lots of water.

Bacterial Wilt

Cucumber vines that mysteriously wilt and die off are probably infected with bacterial wilt. Bacterial wilt has been reported throughout the United States, central and northern Europe, South Africa, and Japan.

Cucumber bacterial wilt is transmitted by the cucumber beetle. Plants that can be affected by bacterial wilt are all members of the curcurbit family: cucumbers, melons, squash, pumpkins and gourds.

It is not the striped or spotted cucumber beetle itself that is the cause. Erwinia tracheiphila, a bacteria, is transmitted when the striped cucumber beetle or the spotted cucumber beetle feed on the plant’s leaves. Within a week the plants wilt.

There’s not much we can do once the vines are infected with cucumber bacterial wilt, but measures can be taken early in the season to protect young cucumber plants. The larvae of both beetles are white with darker heads and posteriors and can be found in the soil under your cucumber plants. The eggs are a bright orange-yellow. The beetles show up in early spring and lay their eggs on the undersides of the leaves.

  1. Destroy any egg sacks by removing or squashing.
  2. Cover the plants with a floating row cover or cheesecloth. Secure bottom of the cover. Remove cover when the flowers appear.

Harvesting cucumber

Cucumbers grow quickly and are at their best when picked before they get too big. Encourage new fruit development by picking regularly. Do not allow them to get overripe on the vine or they will slow down.

Remedies

When you are affected with skin irritations and (sunburn) inflammation, this vegetable can be of great help for soothing effects. Its efficiency as herbal medicine is due to its nutrients. These nutrients enhance the health of your skin. Just slice up the cucumber and put it on afflicted areas.

Blood pressure reduction is possible with the fiber, magnesium, and potassium content of this veggie.

Recipes

  • Cooked cucumber
  • Cucumber salad
  • Tzatziki
  • Pickled cucumbers
  • More to follow …
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