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Seeds from Italy

How to grow cucumbers

istock-000016068287xsmall.jpgCucumbers

Italian cucumbers tend to be very mild tasting. Bianco primaticio is a small white cucumber which is excellent in salads but also makes a very nice pickle. In our trials, it has exhibited good resistance to wilt spread by cucumber beetles. Tortarello is a very sweet long green cuke; Half Long of Puglia is a classic green pickling type good fresh or for pickles.  

Culture.  Cucumbers like a loose, well-drained and fertile soil. You can either direct seed or use transplants if you are careful. Cucumbers do especially well when grown on a trellis, particularly long cucumbers, which are straighter when trellis grown. Cucumbers are heat lovers and should not be started until two or three weeks after your last frost date and when the soil temperature has warmed up to at least 60°F. If growing on a trellis, direct seed two to three seeds every 6-10" and thin to one or two plants. If growing in beds, plant five to six seeds in a hill (actually a 12" circle) and thin to three.  Space hills 3 feet apart and rows 5-6 feet apart. Keep well watered. For transplants, put two to four seeds in a 4-inch pot and thin to two. Start transplants three weeks before set out date. Carefully transplant, taking care not to disturb the roots.  

Diseases and pests. The bane of cucumber growers is the cucumber beetle. They can seriously defoliate young plants and they spread a wilt which is usually fatal. Prevent by covering young plants with row cover; cucumber beetles are usually gone by the second or third week of June. You can also spray with rotenone. Bianco Primaticcio seems to exhibit resistance to wilt. It is a good idea to make a second planting about four or five weeks after the first. That way if you have problems with the first crop, you can still have cucumbers. Try not to touch the leaves when they are wet from morning dew or after a rain because it encourages the spread of disease.

Harvest, storage and use. Pick cucumbers when small. Do not allow them to get large and develop seeds, since this will stop or slow continued production. If you grow cucumbers on the ground, look carefully since it is easy to miss one. Store in a refrigerator in the crisper section.