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The Seed Program
Growing Hints

This is one of the many growing hints that are available as a bonus with a registered copy of The Seed Program.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers mature quickly enough that the seed can be planted out in the garden in most areas, but starting seed indoors will give you a head start and a bigger harvest. The plants can be trained to grow up a trellis to conserve space in a small garden, and the fruit usually develops straighter when hanging from a trellis. If there is plenty of room, you can just let the plants sprawl like squash as long as the ground is well mulched. The fruit will probably curl, but they'll be just as tasty. Cucumbers are usually picked very small for making pickles, and larger for fresh eating, but are always more tender and with smaller seeds if picked when very small. The smaller the better, and frequent harvesting will encourage the plant to produce more. Make sure that the fruit do not grow too large and ripe on the plant. If the fruit ripens, often turning yellow, the plant will be convinced that it has accomplished its purpose in life (producing mature seeds) and will produce no more fruit.

Cucumber plants are often attacked by the aptly named cucumber beetle. The beetles just munch a few leaves and do very little damage directly, but they spread a number of diseases, including bacterial wilt and mosaic virus. These diseases will seriously weaken a plant, especially a young plant. They will devastate the harvest and may even kill the plant. Even constant applications of noxious chemicals are not always effective in eliminating this problem. The best strategy is to isolate the cucumber plant from these pests during its early stages of growth. Start the seeds indoors, where there are no bugs to molest it. When the plant is transplanted into the garden, keep it closely covered with a floating row cover until the vines are long and the blossoms appear. Once the plant has flowers, the cover must be removed so that the blossoms can be pollinated by bees. The cucumber beetles will likely attack at this point, but the mature plant will be better able to resist the diseases and will still produce a good crop. An organic insecticide such as rotenone or pyrethrum will provide added protection for the unprotected plant.

For more crops, more complete gardening information, a garden journal and a planting schedule you can customize for your region, purchase The Seed Program!

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