Cucumbers remain a popular garden and table vegetable in most of the United States, although, as the top chart shows, over the past forty years, American preferences for cucumbers shifted from pickles to fresh cucumbers.
In 1970 per capita fresh cucumber consumption stood at 2.8 pounds/person. By 2010, that number had more than doubled, to 6.8 pounds/person. Added to sandwiches, salads and snack trays, fresh cucumber popularity grew slowly.
Over that same time period, the average American's pickle preferences also changed, with the 1970 average American consuming 5.7 lbs of pickles, and the 2010 average American consuming 3.7 lbs of pickles.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA: Vegetables and Melons Yearbook May 2011)
|More Garden Resources
Growing Salad Vegetables
Cucumber popularity makes it a favored warm-weather garden vegetable, and it's relatively easy to grow.
Seed Germination Tip: The market provides multiple salad and pickle seed varieties, which introduces a bit of additional thought into the seed selection process.
Each variety provides its own optimal seed germination recommendations, but generally, as warm weather crops, cucumber seeds thrive in warmer environments than most cool weather crop seeds. Some suggested seed germination temperatures for warm climate gardens range between 85oF - 90oF.
Planting Tips: Cucumbers grow from seed or seedlings, however seedling taproots can be easily damaged when transplanted, so seed planting might be the safer garden route. Organic seed varieties are available from specialty stores. They grow well near radishes
Soil Conditions: Cucumber plants also flourish in a sunny garden patch with highly enriched soil, when soil temperature reaches 700F.
Spacing: As vining plants related to pumpkins and squash (Cucurbitaceae), cucumbers require above average garden space. Once the seeds germinate and the plants begin to grow, thin them so that the healthiest plants have about a foot of space between them.
Organic Tip: Cucumbers require more phosphate and potassium for optimal growth after flowering. Therefore, an organic fertilizer with a relatively lower N to PK ratio such as 5-10-10, provides ideal nutrition for flowering plants.
1c raw sliced cucumber: 3.8 mg Vitamin C
Men 19+: 90 mg/day suggested
Women 19+: 75 mg/day suggested
Keeping the growing area weed free often provides a first good, organic pest control management strategy. Mulching or placing black plastic around the plants keeps the soil warm and relatively weed free.
Over the counter organic remedies, for cucumber beetles, common pests of many Cucurbitaceae, can be purchased in many local stores.
Harvesting Tips: Removal of the fruits before any seeds harden materially lengthens the life of the plants and increases the size of the crop.
© 2009-2012. Patricia A. Michaels