The last few years I have been trying different vegetables in our zone 5 gardens to see which are more resistant to disease and able to hold up to pests. I have grown cucumbers for years, but often times I have a problem with cucumber beetles that I have to “hand-pick” every morning. This year I only grew “Lemon Cucumbers,” this summer which I have found, are the most resistant cucumber to pests. They are very prolific.
Since this summer, I only noticed one cucumber beetle. That surprised me since last year I would be out there killing at least a dozen every day. My morning beetle ritual would go on from the start of summer till frost, but this year I have not seen ANY on my cucumber plants. I can count on my “one hand” how many cucumber beetles I saw all summer. The other day when I was gathering summer squash, I did find one crawling on a squash leaf. That would make 6 cucumber beetles the entire season!
Here, is some more information on cucumber beetle pests. I have had both the spotted and striped in my yard. If they were not so destructive, I might consider them to be a pretty yellow beetle. I find it fascinating that they are spotted and striped! I do rotate my crops each season, which is one way to help with organic pest control. I found this a bit odd that I had seen so few this summer, so it made me ponder what did I do differently this year…
I don’t have a lot of space, so I grow cucumbers vertically. I rotate them throughout the Urban Potager. I find they are easier to manage with pests if they are off the ground. Last year, I would go out early in the morning and find most cucumber beetles starting their day in the squash blossoms. I usually hand-pick them with a stick I found on the ground, and destroy them before they had a chance to move onto the cucumber plants.
I have found that after cucumbers are done producing the beetles are always climbing on Calendula flowers. For the past few season in the fall, I have been destroying the cucumber beetles that were present on Calendula blooms. I practice “companion planting” and did add some new flowers that are suitable for attracting beneficial insects. I always include the ultimate workhorses in an organic garden such as Borage, but this year I added, Black Scabiosa and Tagetes Tenuifolia. I am pondering if my new additions have provided some added protection with marigolds and nasturtiums.
I will be leaving some lemon cucumbers on the vine the next month till they mature and start to become soft for seed saving. Cucumbers must be isolated by 1/2 mile. I don’t know if it is possible since I do not know what is growing on a lot a block away. Last year I saved my Jimmy Nardello peppers, and I had the same worries about my seed not being isolated enough. This year I grew my Nardello pepper seed out from 2012, and I got Jimmy Nardello peppers! I’ll let you know next year if I get “Lemon Cucumbers” from this year’s attempt at seed saving.