By Jannie Vaught
With this season arrives all the issues of heat, bugs, and water. Let’s remember some basics, if possible cover tender plants with shade cloth or ahead of time plant where it has a little shade from larger plants or a tree, Water consistently and check soil by digging a little hole to see if there is moisture deeper in the root system and you may need two watering times early morning and evening. The Harlequin bugs and Leaf legged stink bugs are here, again it is, find them first. Look under leaves for little patches of eggs, these can be squished or sprayed off with a strong water spray. Apply Neem oil according to directions and a few drops of peppermint essential oil in a gallon of water can help also. Do this early or later in the day when the sun is not directly above and the heat is at its highest. Some of these bugs will be under the soil in the root system so treat the soil with a drench. Today we are looking at Cucumbers, (Cucumis sativus) is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family. Cucurbitaceae. It is a creeping vine that bears cucumiform that are used as vegetables. They are having a bumper crop this year. Cucumbers come in all varieties. Pickling to Straight 8, Lemon, White, and Armenian to Hothouse. You choose the ones you like and will use. Start them in a larger 4×4 container inside in the late winter to early spring, they do not like their roots touched so a larger container gives them more room and less chance to hurt their roots.
2 seeds per started pot, and do not thin, they like a friend to grow with. Only transplant when soil is a good 60 degree for a week and all chance of frost is over. They can be direct sown in the ground when conditions are right. Plant them so they can travel up vertical on a trellis or fence if you have space they can sprawl on the ground but will be at the mercy of all eating creatures that live there. Or place a tomato cage over them and add a long wooden stake to give it more stability as they will get top heavy, this works with tomatoes also. They have male and female flowers, the males show first then the females. The females will have a tiny cucumber behind the flower and if it does not get pollinated it will have a shriveled dark tip and not develop. They need consistent watering daily, use a timer or they will be misshapen or bitter. When harvesting ripe fruit use a clipper and leave a small portion of the vine on the fruit. store refrigerated or very cool to slow further ripening. When ready to use cut the flowering tip-off before eating to reduce bitterness and the growth hormone especially if pickling as it will make them soggy, sweet pickles don’t seem to matter. They will need feeding about twice a season and will show you when they need feeding by having yellowing on the leaves. Use a good fish emulsion and add 1 tablespoon of Epson salt to 2 gallons of water to get magnesium and sulfur to them. Apply 1/2 gallon per plant and sprinkle some of it on the leaves. If you are going to grow a few for seed they need to get “Big”, almost bursting to let the seeds mature. Harvest and clean the seeds out and rinse and dry completely before storage in dark glass and remember to write the variety the date, which company you received them from and where they were grown on the jar. Or on a paper placed inside the jar or container. Cucumber is used in salads, fresh pickled in a bowl with vinegar and seasoning, on sandwiches and sliced with a sprinkle of salt. This is looking to be a hot humid summer and take some time to feed and tend the cukes.
Growing green and feeding the cucumber today with Jannie
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