By David Wall, Mount Pleasant Master Gardener
Those who started cucumber plants from seed or bought transplants from various stores have been getting great results. The problem with cucumbers, and similarly tomatoes, is that they have a definite production limit. Most regular cucumbers species such as marketmore, straight8 and numerous others will usually produce under good conditions somewhere 15-25 fruit. After the production limit is reached, you can leave them until frost or immediately remove them.
There are a few exceptions to the production limit. Socrates can produce anywhere from 40 to 100 fruit. These and other beit alpha species produced more than regular species, but their seeds cost a lot more and they will still reach a productive limit. SO, what are we to do?
It’s getting close, but it still not too late to plant some new seeds. The variety is unimportant, because frost will probably kill the plant before production limit is reached. Nevertheless, you’ll have home grown fruit until frost. Also, fruiting occurs faster with summer planted cucumbers.
Many plant cucumbers on the first of May, not realizing that spring weather is not kind to such plants. Mid-summer plants usually germinate faster and have fewer problems with regard to slugs and cucumber beetles, as well as fewer disease problems.
Watering is a little more critical with mid-summer planted cucumbers. Seeds must be watered daily until the plants germinate and produce the first true leaves. Afterwards, 1-2 inches of water a week are needed. Mulching, of course helps keep soil from overheating as well as retaining water. Global warming is coming, and a major factor is soil overheating.
Mixing some compost in with the garden soil before planting seeds will aid in speedy growth. It also reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers, which, in the long run, do not do your soil any good.