Tuesday, February 9, 2016

End of Season Review - Cucumbers


It was a dismal year for cucumbers.  I think that out of all the veg I grew this year, they got the short end of the stick when it came to the amount of attention I paid to them – and that lack of attention was evident at harvest time.

From the left:
Chelsea Prize (2), Garden Sweet & Lemon

My note-taking left a lot to be desired, but it was especially bad when it came to the cucumbers – I had 6 notations for cucumbers this past year, compared to 14 the year before, and basic info such as when I transplanted them was absent.  I’m not even sure how many seedlings I ended up transplanting.

I grew 5 different varieties - three were repeats from the prior year (Suyo Long, Lemon & Garden Sweet Burpless) and two were new (Chelsea’s Prize & Corentine).  Of the new additions, I quite liked Chelsea’s Prize.  It's an English cucumber, which is our preferred type for fresh eating.

Lemon & Chelsea Prize

The Corentine, a gherkin type cucumber, was a different story.  My main complaint with this one was it’s prickles – it was covered.  Unlike other varieties I’ve grown, I couldn’t simply rub them off with my hands - I had to use a knife to scrape them away - which was a bit too much trouble for my taste.

Chelsea Prize & Corentine

In addition to my inattentiveness (and the garden-wide irrigation issue), I also ended up planting the cucumbers much too close together, using a 6” spacing instead of the 12” that I should have.  I’m not sure why I did this as I “knew” from past experience that spacing them this closely had a negative impact on yield…but I did it anyway.  Probably one of those illogical "I'm sure it will work THIS time" moments in the garden.

I used the same amount of bed space as in prior years and even though I’ve estimated the number of seedlings I transplanted as 8, I'm certain that I planted quite a few more as otherwise, I wouldn’t have needed to space them that close together.

All of this added up to harvests that were less than impressive:




For comparison, in 2014 I grew 8 cucumber plants (but used the proper 12” spacing), and harvested over 18kg (41 lbs) of cucumbers.  The most productive variety, Garden Sweet Burpless, gave us 2.9 kg (6.3 lbs) of cucumbers per plant - a far cry from this years 564 grams (1.24 lbs)!  And that's best case scenario as chances are that I had more than 2 Garden Sweets planted.  The Suyo Long was a complete bust - the plants were squished into the end of the bed and hardly grew the entire season.


Overall Impressions and Plan for Next Year

Poor cucumbers – the plants were thirsty, crowded and neglected.  So sad...which is pretty much how I'm feeling as I write this.

I don’t have a specific plan for cucumbers this coming season other than paying them the attention they deserve.  I’ll be growing 8 plants again and WILL keep the spacing at 12” apart.  If the harvest is anything like that in 2014, those 8 plants will produce more than enough for our needs.

I'll also try to be much more conscientious about using milk spray - my one defense against powdery mildew.  This year all of the vines succumbed to powdery mildew by the end of August.  In 2014, which was a much wetter year, I used the spray and my final harvest wasn't until the end of September.

As for varieties, I’ll be dropping Corentine, but keeping all of the others.  Because it was such a bad cucumber year, I’m still undecided about the whole parthenocarpic cucumber issue (which I spoke about in the last paragraph of THIS post).  Many of the cucumbers had an odd shape, but that could have just as easily been from lack of water.

I will also be growing some new varieties including Diva, which was a favourite of Daphne’s, and Green Fingers, one of Michelle's recommendations.  From the looks of it, I'll only be able to include one plant for most varieties if I'm to stick with 8 plants.  I can already feel that nagging voice in my head telling me that I should be planting a few more...

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

12 comments:

  1. Oh, How I would love to have some home grown cucumbers and tomatoes about now! Cold and snowy today in NW Indiana! Nancy

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  2. Well, your lemon cucumber looks to have done better than mine did, I think I got one fruit in the end. I've found that the small cucumbers work best for me, both in terms of how they perform and also size. I'm the only one who eats cucumbers here so they're ideal.

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    1. This was the year when both my kids showed an appreciation for cucumbers - up until now, they both claimed not to like them. Then one day, I placed a plate of sliced cucumbers sprinkled with salt on the table. That's the one thing - if it has a sprinkling of salt, they are at least willing to try it. Instant converts! Let's hope that this coming season will be much more bountiful in the cucumber department for both of us!

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  3. I used to grow greenhouse cucumbers and apart from the initial 2-3 fruits the plants then used to give up the ghost. Last year I decided to grow an outdoor variety.. Way better and lots more fruit, so outdoor ones it'll be again this year :o)

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    1. That sounds like me and squash. It's great that you didn't give up and tried a new approach - I bet that this coming year will be even better!

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  4. I definitely don't like the prickly ones although at least I tend to wear garden gloves most of the time so don't get pricked during harvest. I can't imagine having them so much you have to use a knife!

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    1. Yeah, I've never seen a cucumber that prickly before - I'm not sure if all of the gherkin types are like that or if this one was just particularly bad. The good thing is that it's easy for me to drop it so that I can try something new :)

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  5. Oh, I miss the Cucumbers! Mine didn't grow very well last summer (not enough sun). I think I'll rely on the farmer food co-op share for cukes this year. Fresh, organic cukes are the best!

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    1. They are amazing, aren't they? Cucumbers definitely need a good amount of sun. It's probably no surprise that the Suyo Long was a dud as it was in the shadiest part of the bed.

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  6. Too bad your cucumbers didn't come out, and hope this year will be better. I LOVE Diva so hope you'll like it too.

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    1. It's the start of a new season and optimism reigns supreme!I'm quite hopeful that this year will be better all around.

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