After years of mediocre production from my cucumber plants I’ve decided to take some action. My first thought was to call the folks at Johnny’s Seeds to see what they have to say about it. They told me they grow all their cucumbers on trellis’ and they also prune them. Having grown up in a farming town in Michigan’s “Thumb,” I had never given it a thought to trellis them.
My memories from those days are of Hispanic workers out in the fields picking cucumbers from bushy plants that would then be trucked into Aunt Jane’s Pickle Company, which was just a block away from where I lived. I played baseball across the street from the plant, which smelled of a mix of dill pickles and rotten sewage from the dikes that held waste liquid from the plant.
Sex education for cucumber growers
The other thing I didn’t know until a few years ago is you can buy cucumbers that are gynoecious and parthenocarpic.
Gynoecious simply means the cucumber plants contain all or mostly female flowers, which isn’t typical of the older varieties. This means you’ll get higher yields from these types. Two gynoecious varieties that Johnny’s sells include two slicers, Corinto and Diva.
Parthenocarpic means they don’t require pollination, which is another relatively new trait. Taken together, you have a higher yielding cucumber plant that can be grown in a greenhouse without the aid of pollination.
Sounds good to me.
So this summer I’m going to start a few in my little greenhouse (in containers) and let the rest trellis up the fence that surrounds my garden. I’m hoping to have enough cucumbers to feed an army.
Quick tips for starting cucumbers:
- Cukes love the heat. Wait until the soil warms to at least 60 degrees (about 75 degrees air temperature) before planting.
- In cool climates, use heat caps to get them off to a good start or start them in a hoophouse.
- Start in peat pots that can be placed in the garden pot and all when it comes time to plant. Never disturb the roots of cucumber plants or other vine crops, like pumpkin and squash.
Watch for the striped cucumber beetle, they can be devastating. See Johnny’s and other sources for organic pest control.