How to Grow Cucumbers:

Cucumber, when do you plant cucumbers, can you grow them next to squash, how much water do they need, when do I harvest the cucumbers, how do I fertilize cucumberThe cucumber originated in the Middle East, but was first recorded being cultivated in India around 3,000 years ago.  They spread quickly across Asia and parts of Europe. During his rein, the Roman Emperor Tiberius had them grown year round in portable grow beds. During the summer they were grown outside, but when the weather turned cold they wheeled them into something similar to a greenhouse.  He insisted on having them on his table daily.

The cucumber, ironically enough, was actually introduced in the Americas by Columbus.  Records indicate the cucumber was planted in the West Indies in 1494.  It’s ironic because the cucumber is part of the squash family, which mainly originated in the Americas.

Like other squash, the cucumber is actually a fruit, but for cooking purposes, is considered a vegetable.  It is typically eaten fresh or pickled.

Planting and Growing:

Cucumbers should not be planted outside until soil temperatures have reached over 70 degrees F (21 degrees C).  They are a warm weather crop, so plant about 4 weeks after the last frost, depending on the climate.  In cooler climates it is best to start cucumbers indoors about 3 weeks before transplanting.  All squash varieties germinate quickly, but grow poorly in pots.  If left too long in pots, especially under imitation light, they will become long and stringy which will stunt their growth after transplanting.  Transplant them as soon as the second set of true leaves appear, and be careful not to disturb the roots.

The cucumber does best when sown directly outdoors, but if your growing season is short, your harvest may be short as well.  In this case, find a variety with a shorter maturity period.  They can also be grown under floating row cover, clear plastic, or Wall-O-Water to control temperatures and warm the soil.  Using this method, lay out your cover about a week before planning and sow seeds two weeks after the last frost date.

Cucumbers need good, fertile soil.  Prepare the garden bed in the fall by mixing in 1 inch (2.5 cm) good compost into the top 4 inches (10 cm) of soil.

Cucumber, how do you make pickles with home grown cucumbers, how do you preserve cucumber

Fertilize with an organic fertilizer high in nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous when planting, and every two to three weeks after that.  Water the cucumbers deeply to speed growth, especially when the fruits begin to form, and make sure they are not shaded.

Cucumbers can be grown on the ground, but are best grown up a trellis or fence.  Set out the trellis for the cucumber to climb, and guide it up every few days. This will help the fruit grow more uniformly and prevent bugs and diseases. They are also easier to harvest that way.

Harvesting and Preserving:

A cucumber is ready to harvest when they look big enough to eat.  Don’t allow them to grow to full maturity, since they will become bitter and seedy.  When they start to turn yellow, it means they are ripening and it is past time to pick them. They will store in the refrigerator for a week or maybe two, but they are best eaten fresh. Wrapping them in plastic can help them stay fresh a little bit longer.

Cucumber slices can be frozen for eating on salads or sandwiches, later.  Wash and thinly slice about 2 quarts of cucumbers, along with one pealed, and a sliced onion. Mix onion and cucumbers with 2 tablespoons of salt, and let it sit for a couple of hours. Rinse with cold water and put them in a bowl.  Add 2/3 cup each of oil, vinegar and sugar, and 2 teaspoons celery seed and mix well. Cover bowl and put in the refrigerator overnight.  Pack the mixture in freezer jars and freeze leaving 1 inch ( 2.5 cm) head space.

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