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How to Grow Great Cucumbers

Updated on May 27, 2015

The Gardeners Kitchen

Cucumber sandwiches will always remind me of my grandmother, my mother’s mother, my nanny. Our next door neighbour back when I was much younger, used to grow cucumbers, my father focused on tomatoes, big beefsteak one, but Mr. Sanford grew a number of vegetables and cucumbers were one. He would share his surplus with us and my nanny would make sandwiches, in those days, on white bread with mayo and the crusts cut off. They were delicious.

Of course, the cucumber and tomato sandwich is a prince among sandwiches with a leaf of romaine lettuce and some black pepper it is a sandwich to be respected and devoured.

As the years rolled by, the cucumber remained a staple in our summer/fall kitchen. By now, I was adding lettuce and black pepper, then one day I decided to try combining two things that I liked peanut butter and cucumber and a new taste sensation was born. I still look forward to fresh cucumbers in season. The ones I get in the store in winter are too watery.

Another item that makes an ideal companion for the cucumber and tomato sandwich is a dill pickle, which is, that is correct, a cucumber. Cucumbers come in a number of varieties which include picklers, slicers, gherkins, white, and bush cukes. You can pickle or preserve any small cucumber,

Cucumbers are from the subtropics and grow best at relatively high temperatures, 65-75 degrees F being the ideal temperature range.

Frost is a serious threat and in northern climates you are best to start your cucumbers indoors about four weeks before you plant them out.

The cucumber is a demanding plant. They have an extensive root system that requires regular watering and good healthy soil to grow best. The plant will tolerate a variety of soils but it will do best in a loose well-drained soil that is complemented with organic matter such as well-rotted manure or compost before planting. The soil pH should be between 6.0 and 7.0.

If you have limited space you can still grow cucumbers, just think vertically. The vines of the cucumber will grow up a trellis and as long as the sunlight is available you can grow them in a large container with a trellis on your patio or balcony.

The best support for growing cucumbers vertically is the tomato cage. You will have to guide, at first, the vines through the wires of the cage or the trellis but in a short time they will know what to do.

Pests may be a problem and vigilance is the key. Aphids, cucumber beetles, leaf miners and squash bugs are the most common invaders.

Some advise keeping cucumbers away from potatoes, sage and aromatic herbs, on the other hand, good companions for your cucumbers are corn, peas, radishes, beans and sunflowers.



Cucumber Vine

courtesy sa-ku-ra-  flickr
courtesy sa-ku-ra- flickr

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