Cucumber, whose scientific name is Cucumis sativus, is a family of gourd-like warm weather vegetables that is related to squash and melon. Both nutritious and delicious, cucumbers are a healthy food that are low in calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium but high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and potassium. As a healthy and refreshing food, cucumbers are a favorite plant among many gardeners. Learning how to plant and care for a cucumber garden is easy with these simple tips and instructions.
Before planting a cucumber garden, you must first learn about the many different types of cucumber available. The term cucumber refers to the fruit about fifty different varieties of vined plants of the Cucumis genus of the Cucurbitaceae family. Different varieties of cucumber offer different flavors, textures, and sizes of fruit. Some of the most popular cucumber types of home gardens include:
- Armenian (yard long) cucumbers
- Beit Alpha cucumbers
- English cucumbers
- East Asian cucumbers
- Garden cucumbers
- Kirby cucumbers
- Lebanese cucumbers
- Lemon cucumbers
- Persian (mini seedless) cucumbers
- Pickling cucumbers
When choosing cucumbers to plant, choose a variety that fits your tastes and needs. For example, if you plan to make pickles, choose a variety of pickling cucumber. Or, if you want fresh cucumber slices for a salad, choose a garden or English cucumber.
Like other vined plants including squash and pumpkin, cucumber requires a large open space that receives plenty of sunlight. Because cucumber plants have shallow roots, cucumbers also need fertile soil that retains moisture. Plan on adding fertilizer or compost to your cucumber garden when preparing the soil. To plant cucumber seeds, form mounds of dirt approximately three inches in height and at least a foot apart on one side of your garden. Plant three to six seeds per mound. Water immediately after planting and as soon as the soil dries out. Once seedlings emerge, thin the plants out to two to three seedlings per mound depending on the amount of cucumber you wish to produce. Because cucumber is a warm weather vegetable, do not plant before the last frost of the year. If you live in a region with short summers, you can start cucumber plants inside approximately four weeks before the final frost date.
Growing and Harvesting Cucumber
As cucumber vines grow, guide the plants to grow in the same direction to maintain a visually attractive and easy-to-care-for cucumber garden. For smaller gardens, cucumbers can be trained to grow on trellises. Remove any badly misshapen cucumbers from the vines. Water regularly to promote growth, but do not overwater to prevent disease and rotted plants. Remove any vines that show signs of disease immediately to prevent the disease from spreading to other plants. Cucumbers are susceptible to pests like cucumber beetles and aphids; treat your plants with an insecticide if necessary. Harvest cucumbers by removing the fruit from the vine as soon as an individual cucumber becomes evenly green, firm, and crisp. Depending on the variety, cucumbers are ready for harvest when the fruit reaches two to eight inches in length. Do not allow cucumbers to over-ripen and turn yellow because the fruit becomes bitter. Remove the entire vine from the garden at the end of the growing season.
Cucumbers are a delicious and nutritious vegetable that should be included as part of a healthy diet. Learning how to grow a cucumber garden at home is simple with these easy tips and instructions.
Cucumber Varieties: http://www.cucumbervarieties.net/
How to Plant and Grow Garden Cucumber: http://www.essentialgardenguide.com/garden-vegetables-planting/9/Cucumber/
Nutrition Facts and Analysis for Cucumber: http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2439/2
Watch Your Garden Grow – Cucumber: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/cucumber1.html