Did You Know?
Cucumbers are vining plants in the same family as melons and squashes. This family, called Cucurbitaceae, has one of the highest percentage of species in which the plant (fruit) is used for human foods. Yum!
Cucumber plants should be transplanted or seeded into the ground no earlier than two weeks after the last frost date. They prefer warmer night time temperatures but also cooler days (think 60's-80's). Cucumbers can sunburn when planted in direct sun especially in Sonoma County microclimates that tend to see hotter summer temps. Planting wise, they are comparable in light and temperature preferences to tomatoes, thriving in partial filtered sun planted well after the last frost date.
Types and Varieties
- Pickling: Commercially made pickles are made from specially bred varieties that are uniform in size and shape. The fruits tend to be shorter, thicker and irregularly shaped with bumpy or spiny skin.
- Slicing: Slicing cucumbers are usually the largest in size with the thickest skins harvested around 7-8". This lends well to storing and shipping. English slicing varieties are thinner skinned but often wrapped and stored in plastic to prevent desiccation.
- Burpless: Burpless varieties are varieties that are purported to contain none or less of the compound, cucurbitacin, which causes the bitter taste and increases gas in some. This includes many of your market favorites: Persian cucumbers, Armenian cucumbers, and even lemon cucumbers.
Most cucumber varieties you encounter will be vining plants, but bush cucumber varieties do exist. We prefer vining plants because they are easy to manipulate and train with trellis support, keeping the fruits off the ground, and leaving more real estate in your garden bed. Trellising is recommended for vining types; gridded metal or wood panels will provide adequate support for your cucumber plants and they typically do not need much training to attach. Find out more about trellising including "how to", here.
Your cucumber appreciates consistent watering. They do not like to be over or underwatered. Cucumbers are susceptible to powdery mildew, blossom drop in high temperatures, and deformed fruit if under pollinated.
When harvesting cucumbers, its important to know what the the variety looks like full grown. Cucumber varieties can range anywhere with fruit from a few inches to over a foot long. We recommend harvesting cucumbers on the smaller side as certain varieties can get slightly bitter and seedy when too mature. Here's specific harvest info for some of our favorite varieties
Marketmore: Harvest when fruits reach 8-9 inches in length.
Armenian: Harvest when fruits are 10-12 inches in length.
Diva: Harvest when fruits are 5-7 inches in length.
Lemon: Harvest when 2-3 inches in diameter, between golf ball and baseball size.