I gave up growing cucumbers on the ground about 6 years ago, and I can tell you I will never grow them on the ground again! I have been trialing a variety of cucumbers over the years to find the best to grow vertically, are virtually pest free and have an excellent flavor. I wrote a blog post about Heirloom Lemon Cucumbers last summer and decided to grow them out again ( 3rd year) from my own saved seed.
Last year I found only a few cucumber beetles and this year I did not find one pest on these cucumbers the entire growing season! They produced earlier this year, were more prolific than the previous year, work perfectly growing vertically, nd the bees were just humming inside the arbor every day.
I have been so busy the past few weeks trying to “fine tune” the summer crops so they don’t disappear too soon. I like to stretch the summer harvest for as long as I can late summer/early fall. This past week I had to thin out my cucumber arbor which was filled with vines and blooms all summer long.When you walked through the arbor, you would hear the bees humming inside and see them dancing between all the flowers. It was an incredible site to see that many bees working! It looked lovely in the garden for most of the summer but was starting to look a bit shabby this past week.
Heirloom Lemon cucumbers will keep on growing until early fall and sometimes if we have a warm October they will still produce right up until Halloween. I have found this is only possible if I remove all the dead leaves,t rim the vines back a bit and side dress the plants with compost or organic fish+ seaweed fertilizer.As I start thinning out the plants, I find a variety of cucumber sizes from golf ball size to baseball sizes! Also, colors ranged from light green, light yellow, bright yellow or dark brown almost and hidden among the vines several large baseball sized round cucumbers!
It is obvious the baseball size cucumbers are not good for eating so I usually let those be my seed saving stash. I may leave some of them on the vines or near the vines until they get a bit more ripe. They recommend you let them get a bit over ripe for seed saving.
The key with the Heirloom cucumber is learning how to choose it for the best flavor. If you pick them at the right time,t hey are sweet ( light green in color).If you wait too long, they can get a bit seedy and too bitter. We had a friend visit a few years ago and he told us to pick them a bit greener or light/yellow-green. I tried it and he was right! You can eat them when they look like a lemon but if a person does not like too many seeds they can be a bit seedy. I have found if you pick them a bit smaller ( light yellow/green) and lighter they are a sweet tasting cucumber.
I also grew an Heirloom Cucumber near the house to see how my new vertically growing area would work and they are doing great. I started these a bit later and in containers, so they work well growing vertically in a small container for smaller urban areas.I would not grow more than two vines I have found one or two plants to produce enough for 2-4 people. I have been picking baskets of cucumbers the past few weeks!
I love growing heirloom vegetables and I found this wonderful description in Mother Earth News, I have found everything that this article states about the Lemon cucumber to be true! It is one of the best to grow if you don’t like dealing with pests + enjoy a sweet cucumber. It also provides more background information on growing cucumbers and how to save your harvest.
Introduced in the early 1890s as a novelty, this cucumber has many admirable qualities as a slicer for salads. The fruit is round, or should be, and white skinned, with bright yellow streaks. Fruit is harvested when 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter. Paring is unnecessary because the skin is thin and lacks all trace of bitterness.
“Organic gardeners have recently rediscovered this cucumber because it is more resistant to fungus diseases than many white varieties, and particularly resistant to rust. Furthermore, it remains highly productive until frost and tolerates drought. These features have made it extremely popular in California, but since the vines are especially attractive to squash beetles, I find that I must overplant in order to ensure enough cucumbers during the course of the season.” Mother Earth News 2013
What is so neat about this cucumber is that it is a sustainable cucumber for my urban potager. In this basket of cucumbers, I have collected I have sweet cucumbers( light smaller ones) for sandwiches tonight + seed ( large darker ones) to pass on to my neighbors, family + friends to keep us all eating healthy! Now isn’t that a sustainable vegetable?