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Growing cucumbers, how to manage vines?  RSS feed

 
Miranda Converse
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What would be the best way to go about growing a lot of cucumbers?? I have about a 1/4 acre that I would like to dedicate to cucumbers. Why? Because I love pickles!!  And if it works out I might try to sell the excess, or give them to friends at least. Last year, I was able to grow cucumbers quite easily in one of my raised beds but they kind of grew out of control. I didn't trellis them or guide them anywhere and it wasn't terribly easy to harvest them without trampling them. Plus, it wasn't enough to make pickles  

So I'm thinking, I want to try to grow them on a larger scale but I don't know the best way to keep them orderly. I know training them to a trellis is ideal but for 1/4 acre? That's a lot of trellis. Any ideas?
 
Miranda Converse
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Oh yea, and what are your favorite varieties to make pickles with? I'm going to attempt to make the kind of pickles you get at the deli out of a big barrel. If you're from NJ/NY area you know what I'm talking about! They don't have them here in Florida and I miss them!
 
wayne fajkus
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Bush varieties are available
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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When I was growing about 1/4 acre of cucumbers, I planted them in rows. Seeds spaced about 6" apart in the rows, and rows spaced about 7 feet apart. That gave me plenty of plants, and plenty of space for each plant, and enough room to walk between rows. I'm a cultivator sort of guy, so that makes weeding trivial, run the cultivator between rows, then you only have to weed an area by hand/hoe that is about 6" wide during the first part of the season. I didn't have a tractor back then, but today, I would still space the rows 7 feet apart, because that accommodates the width of my tractor very well. In my perfect world, out here in the desert,  I would irrigate in ditch/furrows so that weeds would only tend to grow in the bottoms of the furrows. That greatly simplifies weeding.

I picked every other day for picking cukes. The ones I missed would get big enough to be slicers by the next picking. And by the end of the season, if the vines out-grew the 7 foot of space that I alloted to them, no big deal, I'd just trample the vines in a path between rows.

Here's a photo of how I grow muskmelons, which I plant exactly the same as cucumbers...



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Growing muskmelons in rows
 
John Weiland
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Joseph,

You've mentioned a lot of ways to grow and enjoy cucurbits....have you ever tried drying them?  This thread reminded me of a passage from Willa Cather's "My Antonia", set in late 19th century Nebraska, where reference was made to drying cucumbers, something I had never before heard of:

"The Russians had a neat log house built on a grassy slope, with a windlass well beside the door. As we rode up the draw, we skirted a big melon patch, and a garden where squashes and yellow cucumbers lay about on the sod. We found Peter out behind his kitchen, bending over a washtub. He was working so hard that he did not hear us coming. His whole body moved up and down as he rubbed, and he was a funny sight from the rear, with his shaggy head and bandy legs. When he straightened himself up to greet us, drops of perspiration were rolling from his thick nose down onto his curly beard. Peter dried his hands and seemed glad to leave his washing. He took us down to see his chickens, and his cow that was grazing on the hillside. He told Antonia that in his country only rich people had cows, but here any man could have one who would take care of her. The milk was good for Pavel, who was often sick, and he could make butter by beating sour cream with a wooden spoon. Peter was very fond of his cow. He patted her flanks and talked to her in Russian while he pulled up her lariat pin and set it in a new place.

After he had shown us his garden, Peter trundled a load of watermelons up the hill in his wheelbarrow. Pavel was not at home. He was off somewhere helping to dig a well. The house I thought very comfortable for two men who were 'batching.' Besides the kitchen, there was a living-room, with a wide double bed built against the wall, properly made up with blue gingham sheets and pillows. There was a little storeroom, too, with a window, where they kept guns and saddles and tools, and old coats and boots. That day the floor was covered with garden things, drying for winter; corn and beans and fat yellow cucumbers. There were no screens or window-blinds in the house, and all the doors and windows stood wide open, letting in flies and sunshine alike.

Peter put the melons in a row on the oilcloth-covered table and stood over them, brandishing a butcher knife. Before the blade got fairly into them, they split of their own ripeness, with a delicious sound. He gave us knives, but no plates, and the top of the table was soon swimming with juice and seeds. I had never seen anyone eat so many melons as Peter ate. He assured us that they were good for one—better than medicine; in his country people lived on them at this time of year. He was very hospitable and jolly. Once, while he was looking at Antonia, he sighed and told us that if he had stayed at home in Russia perhaps by this time he would have had a pretty daughter of his own to cook and keep house for him. He said he had left his country because of a 'great trouble.'

When we got up to go, Peter looked about in perplexity for something that would entertain us. He ran into the storeroom and brought out a gaudily painted harmonica, sat down on a bench, and spreading his fat legs apart began to play like a whole band. The tunes were either very lively or very doleful, and he sang words to some of them.

Before we left, Peter put ripe cucumbers into a sack for Mrs. Shimerda and gave us a lard-pail full of milk to cook them in. I had never heard of cooking cucumbers, but Antonia assured me they were very good. We had to walk the pony all the way home to keep from spilling the milk"
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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John:

I really, really love dehydrated muskmelons!!!

I often dehydrate melons, squash and cucumbers. The melons and cucumbers are great as a sweet snack. I prefer to cook squash before deydrating, since it seems like it dries and stores better, but the only way to really use it is to add it to a soup. I haven't found a good way to turn it into a powder after drying. I prefer to peel cucurbits before drying.

Sometimes at the farmer's market, people tell me that they can't buy a 3 pound muskmelon, because they don't think they'd use it before they leave on vacation in a week. Ha! In the hour it took me to pick the muskmelon patch I might have eaten 5 or 6 melons! Anything with a blemish that makes it non-marketable is fair game for eating. I really like muskmelons. If there are more than about a half dozen blemished fruits, then they become wine or vinegar. Muskmelon wine is delightful. And if you are having muskmelon wine with supper, then you aughta have muskmelon vinegar on the salad, and fresh muskmelons for desert!



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I really really like my muskmelons!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I found a photo of how I grow cucumbers. The row on the right is split between cucumbers and muskmelons (cucumbers are closest to the camera). The row is about about 350 feet long. The row on the left is split between butternuts, buttercups, cushaws, and zucchini. The rows are separated by about 7 feet from each other, and from the edges of the field. They are irrigated by a furrow. The germination on the cucumbers was spotty. I'd ordinarily like more plants in that space.
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Growing cucurbits: cucumbers, squash, melons, gourds.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Here's the same planting at the end of the season... The muskmelons/cucumbers are on the left this time. There is a walking path about 18" wide along the fence.
CIMG4215.JPG
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Growing cucurbits: cucumbers, squash, melons, gourds.
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Squash: Ready to harvest.
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Growing cucumbers for seed.
 
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