Tracing its roots back thousands of years to ancient India and Asia, the cucumber remains one of the most popular additions to the backyard home garden.
Especially with the introduction of dwarf varieties that do not require as much space, cucumbers can be allowed to sprawl or can be grown vertically up a fence or trellis.
The versatile cucumber allow for a mix of uses including slicing into salads, chopping up for relishes or for pickling. Almost 96% water, the cool cuke provides snap and flavor to any side dish and is a good source for vitamins A and C.
Depending on how early you wish to start your crop, cucumbers may be started indoors as seedlings, or planted directly into the soil outdoors after all threat of frost has passed. Since they are so fast growing, many gardeners skip the pre-planting stage, and head right out to the garden to plant seeds in late spring.
For a super yield, prepare the soil with lots of organic compost or well-rotted manure before planting. Sow seeds at least a foot apart for the vines to sprawl, or set out along a fence or trellis to allow vines room to climb.
When fruit begins to set, feed again with a nitrogen fertilizer and water generously throughout the growth period.
Meanwhile, watch for scarring of the fruit, wilting of leaves or apparent holes chewed through the leaves - a sure sign of cucumber beetles. Also inspect the underside of leaves and drops of sticky "dew," a sign of aphid infestation.
On the Web - How to plant & grow cucumbers :
Watch Your Garden Grow - Cucumbers - Browse for expert advice on sowing, planting, care & feeding, plus commonly asked questions, tips on pest control, recommended varieties, nutritional value & health benefits, and related recipes./p>
Trellised Cucumbers - A guide to growing cucumbers vertically with related tips on recommended varieties, trellis size specifications, training
Cucumber - Insects & Other Pests - Find comprehensive information on every known cucumber insect or disease including thrips, aphids, white flies, nematodes, powdery mildew and other pests, with tips & advice on management & control, recommended insecticides.
Pickled Cucumbers - Instructions for homemade gherkins, bread-and-butter pickles, quick sour pickles and related recipes