|Binomial name:||Cucumis sativus|
Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is a plant cultivated widely in the gourd family Cucubitaceae. This is a vine that creeps and produces fruits that have a cylindrical shape, normally used as a vegetable for cooking. The vegetable cucumber belongs to the warm season; it grows in large quantities in a limited area and we are thankful for its capacity to climb. The frequently used types of slicing cucumbers have curled tendrils that enable them to cling on and spread all over. They have also green large leaves.
The cucumber fruit is to a certain extent, cylindrical and long with ends tapered. They are of length 60 cm (24 in) and diameter 10 cm (3.9 in). In botanical terms, cucumber falls under an accessory fruit grouping. Their seeds lie buried in the fruit and they grow from a flower.
Originally cucumber comes from Southern Asia, still at present, they grow it in most of the continents.
GROWING AT HOME
Soil for Planting
The ideal soil for growing cucumber plant is one which is partly alkaline, with a pH of 7.0 or a neutral one. Addition of organic material enriches the clay soil and adding decayed manure, compost or peat increases the soil density. For the gardens in the north we prefer light and sandy soil because, in the spring they get warm very fast.
- Frost damage easily effects Cucumbers, so do not plant your seeds or transplant them out in the ground earlier than two weeks after the last frost. For germination you need a soil with minimum temperature of 65°F. Take time in planting them outdoors.
- Plant your seeds in rows at a depth of one inch and 6 to 10 inches distant from each other.
- If you think of transplanting your seedlings, keep up a minimum distance of 12 inches from each plant.
- If you wish that the vine must climb, then a trellis is good; it also helps you to save space. Besides, trellising safeguards your fruits from damage and from touching the ground.
- Water your plants regularly; insert your finger in the soil and when you notice the soil dry above the first finger joint it indicates a time for watering. Irregular watering causes your fruit to taste bitter. The right way of watering is mild watering in the morning or in the beginning of the afternoon; avoid watering the leaves.
- Retain moisture in the soil by mulching.
Temp and Humidity
While growing cucumbers, please remember that these vines prefer heat at their base of around 70°F (21°C). If you do not own a heat mat, place the seeds directly on top of the refrigerator or settle them over a water heater.
Transplant your plant, or plant your seeds out into the ground not before two weeks after the last frost date. Cucumbers are to a great extent, prone to damage by frost. For germination, support the soil temperature to 65°F. Take time in planting them outdoors.
- When you plant seeds in the ground, protect them with a berry basket or netting to prevent pests from taking out the seeds.
- When your seeds start sprouting, start watering regularly. Once the fruits form, increase the water to a gallon per week.
- When your plant grows to a height of 4 inches, split them up and plant them 1 ½ feet apart.
- Spray sugar water on the vines in order to invite bees for generating more fruits.
Pests and Pesticides
- Mosaic virus, whiteflies
- Cucumber Beetles
- Bacterial Wilt
Harvest Month and Storage
- The ideal time for harvesting regular slicing cucumbers is when they grow to a length of about 6-8 inches. (Slicing types).
- The ideal time for picking up your cucumbers is before your seeds turn hard, and time to eat is when they are immature. Never let them to become yellow.
- The best quality of cucumber is a crisp, firm a uniformly green one.
- If you leave your cucumber for a long time on the vine their skin becomes tough and plant productivity decreases.
- When the harvesting time is at its peak, pick your cucumber every two days.
- Keep on picking your cucumbers since, because, if you do not pick them, they stop production.
- A cucumber has 90% water. To retain the moisture in it, tightly wrap it in a plastic and store.
- When refrigerated well they last for 7 to 10 days.
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Having discovered a fondness for insects while pursuing her degree in Biology, Randi Jones was quite bugged to know that people usually dismissed these little creatures as “creepy-crawlies”.