How Do Pickles Enjoy A Day Out?… They Relish It!!!
Several people who were at the market this last Saturday mentioned that they are having trouble with their Cucumber plants, reporting poor growth and even the loss of the plant. I know our spring and early summer have been cooler than normal and that can severely affect the plant but several pests can also be the problem especially cut worms which I have noticed In larger numbers this year. Normally Cucumbers are easy to grow provided they have full sun, fertile soil, consistent water and warmth. They are very susceptible to cold damage. Cucumbers grow best at a temperature of 18 to 23 Celsius and temperatures of 13 Celsius and lower can damage and even kill your plant and this year it has been much cooler than normal. One of the first Lumby Market days was quite cool and after about an hour of my Cucumber plants being out they looked like they were dying. I put them back in the truck as I considered them unsaleable and within an hour they had perked back up and looked good. That was how quickly they can be affected by just a cooler day. You can use row covers or cover the soil before planting with black plastic to hold in the warmth and plant them where they will be sheltered from cool breezes.
Cucumbers should be planted in a soil rich in organic matter and should be kept consistently moist. Use a fertilizer that is lower in nitrogen and higher in potassium and phosphorous when you plant then again about a week after the blooms appear and then every few weeks after that. Do not fertilize too often as it will stunt the size of the fruit. Cold is not the only thing that can cause a decline In the health of your Cucumber plant they can be susceptible to spider mites, snails, slugs, aphids, whitefly and cutworms. Cutworms live under the soil and will curl into themselves when disturbed using Diatomaceous Earth when planting can help with the cutworm as well as slugs and snails. Placing a paper cone around your plant and into the soil also can protect young seedlings and a spray of soap and water will help with the spider mites, aphids, and whitefly. Alway trellis your cucumber plants up as this will keep the fruit clean and prevent damage and discolouration as well as save space and make the fruit easier to pick. Do not leave the cucumbers on the vine too long as they will just turn bitter and prevent the start of new cucumbers. Companion plants for the Cucumber include. Lettuce, beans, carrots, peas, radish and nasturtium.
There are many health benefits that are attributed to the Cucumber. They are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and as they are 96 percent water they contain almost no calories and are hydrating. Adding slices to water is refreshing and delicious. They can lower blood sugar, act as an anti inflammatory, a natural diuretic, promotes a healthy heart, wards off osteoporosis. It is also magnificent for the skin as a soothing mask it will help detoxify and hydrate the skin as well as promote the production of elastin and collagen. Slices of Cucumber applied to the eyes is soothing and reduces puffiness.
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