For small-scale farming, bush cucumbers perform best. However, vines do better for large-scale farms. In order to get abundant yield, you need to take good care of your cucumbers.
The different types of cucumber ideal harvest times are when crispy with a thin skin. When left to mature, their skin thickens, the seeds become fully formed, and the flesh becomes bitter.
For best results, prepare cucumbers planted for prickling within a few hours of harvesting. Although slicing cucumbers do better when refrigerated to preserve their moisture.
The soil you use for planting different types of cucumbers should be slightly alkaline or neutral with good drainage and enough moisture.
Choose your variety depending on the climate in your area and your growing preferences.
Types of Cucumbers
There are different types of cucumbers, categorized depending on growing needs and uses. Cucumbers can be freshly eaten as sliced fruit or soaked in brine to make pickles.
Freshly eaten cucumbers usually have a thin skin with a crispy sweet flesh. Prickling cucumbers, on the other hand, have spikes and drier skin.
Burpless cucumbers digest easier when eaten fresh to reduce the bitter chemical produced by the stomach to deal with stomach upset. They are long and slender, growing up to 10 inches and common in Asian markets.
Special cucumbers are heirloom cucumber varieties or greenhouse grown. They are mostly seedless and do not require pollination to bear fruit.
Cucumbers fall into two classifications, parthenocarpic and gynecoecous. These are non-pollination grown and pollination grown respectively.
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Pollination, Pests, and Diseases
For pollination grown cucumbers, the male and female flowers should blossom at the same time for the cucumbers to be seeded. When seeds are not present, it may mean poor pollination or slow seed development.
Parthenocarpic cucumbers, however, are usually seedless. Poor pollination could be as a result of using insecticides to spray the vines, rains or cold temperatures.
Gynecoecous hybrids require pollinator plants to facilitate pollination and ultimately, seed development.
Some of the pests that might affect cucumbers include:
- Squash Bugs – These bugs mainly attack seedlings of the cucumber
- Powdery Mildew – Wet leaves that are close to the soil level are affected by powdery mildew when they become wet.
- Cucumber Beetles – When these attack the vines, they cause diseases to the plant.
The best time to plant cucumbers to prevent them from being attacked by pests is in the month of May.
Historic data from your local weather station can be used to approximate the best range of plantation dates. Cucumbers are susceptible to frost damage, and so the soil should be 70℃ at the time of plantation.
For pest resistant cucumbers, you can use calypso and sassy which also lead to early yields. Spraying vines with sugar water attract bees that facilitate pollination in seeded cucumbers. Covering seeds with netting prevents pests from digging them out.
When choosing between different types of cucumbers, be sure to consider the disease resistance of each variety.
The Dasher II hybrid variety has good disease resistance and matures in roughly 55 days with 8 to 9 inch long fruits. This variety grows best on a trellis or fence.
The Salad Bush is another disease-resistant variety, but it grows best in containers. Its fruit is also around 8 inches long and is ready in 55-60 days. Both
The Diva variety is another type of cucumber that is resistant to disease. It produces slightly smaller fruit than the Salad Bush and Dasher II varieties, and it tends to grow best in the northern United States in Zones 1-4.
Eureka cucumbers are great for pickling and are also disease resistant. They grow in bushes and have smaller seed cavities than other varieties.
Popular Heirloom Varieties
Although you will need to be more vigilant about pests and diseases when growing heirloom cucumbers, they will reward you with wonderful flavor. Also, the knowledge that you are continuing a long tradition of farmers and gardeners everywhere.
The West India Burr Gherkin was grown in colonial America and survives relatively intact to this day. It is best to eat when the fruit is still small and has not yet fully matured.
Two different types of cucumbers that were referenced in the 1800s which are still available today. The Long Green and the Early Cluster. The Long Green is best for slicing and the Early Cluster is best for pickling.
Heirloom seeds are typically found in seed catalogs, but enterprising home gardeners can also save seeds at the end of each growing season.
Growing Different Types of Cucumbers
Although cucumbers certainly have their differences, they all have some growing preferences that the smart home gardener should consider. They all like hot summers and sandy, well-drained soils. Additionally, all varieties tend to do best when planted on slight ridges or hills.
Be sure to plant the seeds in a sunny location, and water the plants consistently. Cucumbers need at least one inch of water each week, and if the weather is especially hot, they need even more.
No matter if you prefer your cucumbers sliced in a salad or pickled on a burger, there are so many different types of cucumbers that you will surely find a variety that works for you, your garden and your kitchen.