Sponsored by Lehman’s
Every summer, I look forward to my Cucumber Salad. Really, I could call it a Summer Salad in that it’s made with summer veggies, two of which I can grow on my newest A-Frame Garden Trellis that I got from Lehman’s. They’re one of my sponsors, and you should definitely check out their great selection of gardening tools!
I like to grow my crook-neck squash, zucchini, and yellow summer squash along with my cucumbers on this trellis. It makes the whole gardening process a lot simpler, and there’s no shortage of advantages to growing plants on a trellis:
- Your garden setup will take up less space and get you more yield. Planting vertically takes up less space, and considering the fact that you can plant them closer together than when planting them the traditional way, you get much more yield.
- Watering is easier and more healthy for plants. You can water only the main stem, which leaves the leaves dry, thereby minimizing fungal diseases.
- The fruit grows uniformly. Since the fruit isn’t growing sitting on the ground, there are no white spots on the underside of the cucumber and the fruit grows more straight.
- It’s easier to see and pick the fruit. Every year that I grow cucumbers and squash on the ground, I will leave so many that I don’t see. They get too big and bitter to eat. I guess that’s more food for the chickens.
- The fruit is cleaner. Keeping the fruit off the ground has its advantages. Namely, there’s less dirt and grime to clean off the fruit after you harvest it.
- Keep the pests and bugs at bay. You don’t need to go overboard on the pesticides if you have your plants on a trellis. The plants will be harder for those pesky bugs to reach.
Keys to Good Cucumber Production
Cucumber plants are not the best for transplanting because they do not like their roots disturbed. I’ve done it in the past, and while it has worked, usually only half of the transplants make it.
Cucumbers are super finicky about temperature. The soil can never be under 60 degrees. Make sure you wait to plant until 2 weeks after the last frost.
Steady Water Source
Before I plant seeds, I like to make sure the soil is moist, but not drenched. Cucumbers like steady moisture – frequent but shallow watering. A soaker hose is great for this kind of watering. I water about every four days and use heavy mulch because the Alabama heat is so intense in the summer.
Soil is always key. Make sure the soil you use for cucumbers is rich. Fertilize as your crop begins yielding.
If you aren’t using a trellis, you’ll want to plant your seeds 18 to 36 inches apart. If you are using a trellis, plant them 12 inches apart. Push 2 or 3 seeds about an inch into the soil and in a few days, you will begin to see seedlings.
Train the Plants up the Trellis
When you are watering or harvesting in the garden, wind the plants around the wire one or two times. The plant will then take over.
Don’t plant Bush Varieties (Bush Champion, anything with “Bush” in the name) on the trellis. They are best used in 5 gallon pots or straight in the ground.
Harvest the Fruit
- Keep an eye on the cucumbers. Just like kids, they get big fast! When they reach about 6 to 8 inches, they are ready. If you harvest them any larger than that, the seeds will be much more developed and the fruit will not be as tasty.
- Don’t let the fruit ripen on the vine. This will shut down production from the cucumber plant. The more you pick, the more they grow.
- 30 days or so before the first frost, pick the flowers off the plant. This will encourage the other fruit to mature so that you can get as much fruit as possible before the frost kills the plant.
A few great varieties that I keep coming back to are ‘Sweet Success’ and ‘Tasty Green.’ These varieties have yielded great results for me.
Once I’ve harvested my plants, it’s time to get on that cucumber salad! There’s no time to waste, as I’ve been thinking about it all through the cold months. You can find that recipe in my Tracking the Outdoors In cookbook (page 69). Get yourself a copy because there’s tons of great gardening tips and recipes in there!