The cucumber is a creeping vine that is rooted in the ground and grows trellises around supportive frames, wrapping around supports with thin, spiraling tendrils. The plant may also root in a soilless medium and spread over the ground when there are no supports for it to climb.
The soil ideally suited to plant cucumber is a slight sandy loam that rapidly adjusts to temperature and fertilizer. These soils are prepared early in the season and placed into gentle gradients to create small ridges on which the seed can be planted to ensure proper drainage of the land.
The cucumber soil should be very rich by adding a big application with stable manure to be integrated into the soil annually. Cowpeas are often grown on the location during the time it is not used by cucumbers or lettuce. They are rotated under before planting a dropping lettuce harvest. Also, liberal applications of a fertilizer that carries a significant percentage of nitrogen should be used.
There are basically as many methods to plant cucumbers as there are growers. Others plant the usual distance of 6 feet apart either way in hills; others plant 6 feet apart in one direction and 2 to 3 feet apart in the row.
While others plant 6 feet apart in drills or broad belts and cut out the plants to stand about one foot apart in the row after the danger of insect depredation has ceased.
The gardener should, of course, follow the approaches that seem the most feasible given the circumstances at hand. The cucumber is commonly used in outdoor agriculture as a companion crop to other crops, such as beans.
Beans of accelerated growth for young cucumber plants come on rapidly and create a partial defense or wind-break. When arranged in this manner, the cucumbers are planted in drills or 6 feet apart in hills. A row of beans is put between two rows of cucumbers, a process that guarantees very full and adequate use of the soil. The fast maturity of the beans allows them to be harvested and entirely extracted from the field before the cucumbers need it.
Since the glazed sash prevents the soil underneath them from being moistened by natural means — that is, by rain or dew — it is essential to provide for the plants to be watered or irrigated. This can be done by arranging a small pipe system either on the surface of the ground or at a convenient height over the plants. Water can be drawn to sprinkle the surface of the beds at desired intervals and as may be required by the plants.
However, the watering process should be performed with great care. It should be noted the same general precautions necessary for the care of plants in cold frames. Watering in the morning only on bright days, when the wind can circulate around the plant and when the sun will soon dry the moisture from the plants’ leaves. Much can be done in this way to protect the plants from damage from diseases such as the damping-off fungus and the mildew.
Cucumbers intended for pickling are harvested when they have reached a length of between 2½ to 5 inches. Another argument that is of utmost importance in handling the cucumber patch is that none of the fruits are allowed to mature.
The maturation process, which means the seeds are formed and matured, causes a massive strain on the growing plant, the plant’s life, and yield is proportional to the number of fruits allowed to develop. If no fruit is permitted to mature, the plants may stay green for longer in active vegetative conditions, producing a much higher aggregate number of fruits.
Dill pickles, which are highly prized and warrant the highest price among pickles, can be made from fresh cucumbers as they come from the vines, or from the vat stock that was maintained at the salting station for some time.
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