Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.)

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Origin

The common cucumber originated in northwest India and is widely distributed throughout the world. It has been cultivated for more than 4000 years. It was introduced to Europe at the beginning of the 6th century. It is believed to have been brought to Eastern Europe and spread by the Tatars in the 14th and 15th centuries.

Consumption

The cucumber fruit is eaten young (7-15 days old), raw, pickled, or sour. The juice is squeezed, drunk pure, or mixed with other vegetable juices. Fresh cucumbers are used in cosmetics, and the juice is used to make lotions to cleanse the face.

Nutritional Value

This vegetable is an excellent source of fluid: it contains 95-97 % water. Cucumbers improve appetite and digestion, and help to improve the absorption of proteins and fats. Their fiber helps to remove cholesterol from the body and stimulates peristalsis. Their juice makes urine and bile excretion faster. Pickled and fermented cucumbers stimulate the secretion of the digestive glands and should be eaten in moderation in cases of gastrointestinal, liver and kidney diseases. Canned cucumbers are high in salt and should be eaten in small portions for cardiovascular and kidney diseases. Cucumbers are not very nutritious and have a low-calorie content of 15 kcal per 100 g.

Cucumbers
Cucumbers

Cucumber Breeds

Greenhouse

Variety ‘Maiskij F,’. Germinates after 48 days. Pollinated by bees. Good autumn fruiting. Cucumbers are delicious. Suitable for fresh, canned, pickled. ‘Marketmore 76’. Germinates after 68 days. One of the most disease-resistant cucumber varieties.

Greenhouse and field

Cucumber ‘Pony H’. Very early. Self-pollinating. Suitable for growing in pots. Resistant to some viral and fungal diseases. ‘Merengue F,’. Germinates after 40 days. Self-pollinating.

Long and abundant until autumn. Cucumbers are delicious. ‘Libelle F,’. Germinates after 60 days. Resistant to scab. Good flavor, suitable for souring. Rodničiok F,’. Germinates after 51 days. Pollinated by bees. Very good flavor, suitable for souring. ‘Polan F,’. Germinates after 48 days. Delicious cucumbers, suitable for fresh, canned and pickled use.

Location

Suitable in a warm, sunny position, sheltered from winds.

Soil and substrate

Outdoor cultivation

Cucumbers are suitable for moderate loams with an optimum soil pH of 6-7. Acidic soils and high water tables are not suitable. The soil must be deeply tilled, friable, well structured, permeable to water and air, and quick to warm up. The soil must be fertilized heavily with compost or digested cattle manure before sowing or planting.

Greenhouse cultivation

The substrate must be fertilized, loose, water- and air-permeable. This is obtained by mixing in equal parts mature compost, acid-reduced raised bog peat and light roller soil. Suitable substrate for cucumber seedlings or multi-purpose substrate for greenhouse vegetables.

Nutrient requirements

Cucumbers are very nutrient-rich. This varies during the growing season: 10 % of total nutrients before flowering, 20 % between flowering and budding, and about 70 % at harvest.

Cucumber flower
Cucumber flower

Sowing and planting

Field cucumbers are sown in the soil (around 12-16 °C) in the second half of May/early June after the lilacs have flowered. The seeds start to germinate at 13-14 °C and germinate within 7-9 days.

Seeds sown in cold soil will rot. The seeds are spaced 13-14 cm apart or less in the row, inserted 2-2,5 cm deep, with a row spacing of 80-90 cm. In a narrow bed, sowing in a single row (in the middle) at 15 cm intervals is possible. After sowing, mulch with peat, compost or garden film. For more uniform germination, the soil should be watered a few days before sowing. Care must be taken when transplanting to avoid damaging the roots (which are very sensitive). It is best to sow cucumbers directly into the growing area, as they develop better, are stronger and have a higher yield. In the field, the seedlings are planted after the thorns have bloomed, between 5 and 17 June, at 15-20 cm spacing, leaving a gap of 80-90 cm. In the greenhouse, planted in mid-May at 30 cm spacing, leaving 90-100 cm between rows.

When planting the seedlings, it is recommended to dig deeper holes and add compost or decayed manure, straw and a layer of soil, and to plant the seedlings shallowly (too deeply and they are more likely to suffer from root diseases). Once cucumbers have successfully started to grow, they are thinned by cutting them back (when they have 3-4 true leaves). Seedlings are left at approximately 30-50 cm intervals. Cucumbers that grow too densely will crowd each other out and obscure each other, creating conditions for the spread of diseases and pests.

Cucumbers are suitable for use in the garden after potatoes, tomatoes, onions, cabbages, beans, beans and peas. The earliest it can be grown in the same place is 2-3 years. If cucumbers are grown in greenhouses in egg containers or plastic boxes, it is recommended to change the substrate every year. For a 10 m2 garden area, about 5 g of seed is needed. Only varieties grown outdoors will be used.

Plant care

Cucumbers like warmth, humidity and fertile soil. It grows best at daytime temperatures of 22-26 °C and night at 16-17 °C. Below 15 °C they stop growing. On very hot days, watering paths in the greenhouse increase humidity. Slightly cooler. At temperatures above 35 °C, the pollen becomes sterile. Cucumber roots are mainly located at the surface of the soil and must be protected from drying out. Always water with warm water (22-25 °C) in the first half of the day without wetting the leaves. Water heavily when cucumbers are ripe. After watering or after rain, the surface of the soil is loosened (about 2-3 cm).

During flowering and ripening, if the soil dries out, the flowers and buds fall off, the fruit deforms and becomes bitter. A thin layer of mulch (about 5 cm thick) reduces moisture evaporation, prevents drying out and prevents the formation of a surface crust. The warmest, least wind-blown, most sheltered place for cucumbers should be chosen. A windy part of the garden and a draughty greenhouse is not suitable. In the garden, shelter can be provided by planting strips of dwarf beans, peas, kidney beans, potatoes, celery and currants. The greenhouse shall be ventilated by opening the windows at the top when the air temperature is at least 22 °C.

Once the cucumbers have started to flower, fertilization is carried out every 10-14 days with a dilution of enzymatic compost made from frozen nettles, fat, grass clippings, garden weeds (10 l of water and 1 kg of fresh plants), or a dilution of poultry manure (2 1 diluted in 10 l of water). Water should be applied before and after fertilization. A handful of tree ash can be dissolved in this water, as it is rich in potassium, phosphorus and trace elements. For outdoor cucumbers, the top can be cut off when 3-5 leaves have grown. This encourages more side shoots to emerge and more fruit to set. Cucumbers planted in a row in the greenhouse get more light and are easier to maintain if they are trained by interchanging the upwardly rising stems (so that they form a V-shape). The tops of the growing cucumber stems are twisted around a skewer 1-2 times a week and the whiskers are picked off. All side shoots and flowers are removed from the main stem to a height of 30-40 cm. The higher shoots are left with 2 leaves and 2 fruits. Later on, 3-4 leaves and the same number of fruits are left on shoots 1,5 m and above. The second-row shoots are shortened when they produce a leaf. When the cucumber reaches the top, the top is pinched off. Sick leaves are removed regularly. Pruning in the first half of the day (better drying of the wounds), without watering that day.

Cucumber
Cucumber

Pests and diseases

Various diseases such as dieback, scab, downy mildew and bacteriosis are very damaging. When the soil is deficient in moisture and the weather is dry, cucumbers are often attacked by thrips and spider mites. In the field, moles, leafhoppers, maggots, and mousy rodents cause a lot of damage. Diseases are more likely to affect weak plants growing in unfavorable conditions and at low temperatures. In the greenhouse, growing cucumbers on the same substrate year after year leads to the spread of fungal diseases and rots.

Harvest

Cucumbers start to produce 1-1.5 months after sowing and 5-10 days after flowering. Harvest with a secateurs or knife in the morning after dew has fallen. Pick every 3-4 days at the beginning of the harvest and more frequently thereafter. The more frequent the picking, the higher the yield. Deformed fruit must also be picked. Cucumbers will keep for 4-5 days at a temperature of 8-10 °C with high relative humidity. Once the cucumbers have been harvested, dill, lettuce, spinach, or white mustard for green manure can be sown in the field. Lettuce can be sown in the greenhouse after cucumbers.

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