1. Soil Preperation:
Cucumbers require a sunny spot protected from strong winds for the best results. The soil should be rich and well drained. Dig a hole approximately one foot square and fill the hole with a mixture of compost or rotted manure and soil. Raise the soil into a mound. Each mound should be spaced 18 inches apart. Most households will require only a few such mounds to provide plenty of cucumbers for their use.
2. Sowing & Planting:
Sow three (3) seeds at a depth of one inch in the center of each mound and cover them lightly with soil. The seeds should be spaced a few inches apart from one another for the best results. Water the mound lightly and place a cloche over the spot to hasten germination. When the first true leaves appear on the new seedlings, be sure to cull them, leaving on the strongest seedling.
3. Looking After The Plants:
Pinch off the growth tip of the plants after they have developed 6 or 7 true leaves. This will encourage the production of side shoots. Leave these shoots to crawl upon the ground or train them to climb netting or a trellis. Be sure to keep the soil moist and water around the plants opposed to watering on the cucumber plants. Mist them lightly in hot weather dry weather to aid in pollenation. In the summer, place black plastic on the ground to around the plants prior to fruit production. This will raise the soil temperature, conserve moisture and inhibit the growth of weeds. Once the fruits begin to swell, feed the plants with a good fertilizer.
4. Harvesting The Cucumber Crop:
Do not try to grow record breaking cucumbers except for the sole purpose of doing so so with a single plant. Cucumbers should be harvested before they reach a maximum size to insure steady production. Harvest most varieties at 6-8 inches in length and approximately 4 inches in length for pickling or gherkin varieties. Lemon or Apple Cucumbers are best harvested at a size which is slightly larger than a duck’s egg. Always use a sharp knife or clippers to harvest the cucumbers opposed to pulling them off of the vine.
Cucumbers are best stored in a plastic bag in the bottom of your refrigirator and will keep for approximately one week. Cucumbers are not reccomended for freezing, but can be best stored for the long term by pickling and canning them.