Cucumbers are one of the easiest vegetables to raise for the beginner. They do grow on vines, so will like a lot of room, or you can use a trellis. Your soil should be composted, and may even be mixed with some sand to keep it loose and reduce acidity if that is a tendency of your soil. Don’t grow clover nearby (which is sometimes used as a ground cover to boost nitrogen). Nitrogen will make the soil too acidic. Soil needs to be well drained.
Cucumbers are very sensitive to frost, so do not plant until the ground is about 70º F (21ºC). Another option is to start the young plants indoors until you are sure. You can start them from seed, the size of which is nicely large.
If you want a lot of cucumbers, you might even spray the plant with a little sugar-water mix. This attracts bees and bees will pollinate the flowers.
Your cucumbers can grow to huge sizes. If they start becoming too “fat,” harvest them. The “fat” cucumbers will have a lot of seeds, and very little vegetable meat. Older cucumbers are not as sweet in taste, either. Do not permit them to get yellow; they are rotting. A second planting can be done with cucumbers, although my garden always produced an extremely generous crop, and new cucumbers were growing all through the summer.
Common Problems and Pest Control
As mentioned earlier, there is a tendency for the mature cucumbers to yellow. Pick those immediately.
Aptly named, the cucumber beetle is one of most ferocious pests that may attach your beautiful cucumbers. Beetle sticky traps, purchased at your nursery, will help. Or, you may use the product selling under the brand name Neem. It is organically safe, as it is made of a certain type of vegetable oil. Neem and beetle sticky traps also work as well for them as for the cucumber beetle.
Snap Peas and Sugar Peas
Snap peas and sugar peas can grow very high, so have some rods ready. They grow in pods but are well worth the effort shelling because of the fresh taste. Composting is necessary but don’t overdo it. You needn’t worry too much about maintaining a highly acidic soil either. In fact, too much acidity is not recommended for them because fewer pea pods will be produced. Although they do prefer the warmer weather, they will tolerate coolness. Keep the soil loose, however, or the plant will be stunted. It likes a lot of underground space for roots. Because of this hardiness to the cold, start them very soon. That way, you will have a bountiful harvest.
Air circulation is essential for peas, so keep this area of your garden well weeded. You might want to space plants apart in the beginning to avoid overcrowding. Whatever you do, do not let the leaves get too wet, or – better yet –keep the leaves dry. Water the plants very early in the morning or water with a light mist straight into the ground around each plant. Adequate drainage also factors in here. Dispose of any wilted leaves that might form as the plant is growing.
Common Problems and Pest Control
Powdery mildew occurs if leaves get too wet. Of course, you can’t stop the rain but can monitor your watering habits as described above. If a lot a leaf wilt occurs, consider rotating this crop for the following year.
Aphids are the most common pests. As with some of the other plants in your garden, the most organic solution is to wash them off and keep this up.