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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.

These Heirloom Cucumber vines work wondefully climbing vertically
These Heirloom Cucumber vines work wonderfully climbing vertically + think about all the space you save in your small growing area!

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.

All summer the bees were dancing between these lovely, dainty flowers on this arbor
All summer the bees were dancing between these lovely, dainty flowers on this arbor

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.

It took me about an hour to clear out all the cucumbers and vines from this arbor for late season tune-up. I call it "tune-up" since it is a  way to keep the plants producing cucumbers. The Heirloom Lemon Cucumber will produce almost up to Halloween. they are smaller but still tasty + great in a sandwich!
It took me about an hour to clear out all the cucumbers and vines from this arbor for late season tune-up. I call it “tune-up” since it is a way to keep the plants producing cucumbers. The Heirloom Lemon Cucumber will produce almost up to Halloween. They are smaller but still tasty + great in a sandwich!

 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!

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  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.

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 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.

As the weather cools this cucumber will still produce but the cucumbers are a bit smaller which is the best way to eat them + if you save the seed to your area they will acclimate to your climate and work better in your growing area
As the weather cools this cucumber will still produce but the cucumbers are a bit smaller which is the best way to eat them + if you save the seed to your area they will acclimate to your growing area

  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!

Don't forget the bees love these flowes....
Companion Planting at the base of your vertical arbor, pot or trellis of cucumbers will help with a healthy harvest. My favorites are cosmos, french marigolds, calendula( pot marigold), zinnias,s unflowers + native perennials to help with pest control and attract pollinators
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Keep those pollinators happy in your organic garden and you will find most of your pest problems will be solved when you observe and only grow those flowers and herbs that help you to grow great tasting healthy food!

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.

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Lemon’ Cucumber
Cucumis sativus

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

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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?

Written by Robbie

M.S. Education, , Organic Gardener, soil + nature lover, former modern dancer

59 comments

  1. It seems that growing them up and not on the ground is a big success for eliminating the bugs. That’s interesting. They sure look delicious 🙂

    1. that is a good observation…I am thinking that may have something to do with it + also growing organically has helped eliminate a lot of my pests that I had many years ago. I have been growing organically, for eample, rotating crops, companion planting, + no chemicals in our yard for the past 15 years + I am not seeing the pests:-) Nature is amazing!
      I just read your garden party post + I hope some of my blog friends go visit your garden party-GREAT IDEA!!!I”ll bring some cucumber slices with dill and cream cheese-yum!:-)

    1. aww Mandy-you are so right! They do look like gourds since some of them are even passing baseball size and approaching softball size-lol! To be honest, I know they taste better smaller but they sure are pretty hanging on the vines that bright yellow size!lol:-)

      1. So true-and picking all of them early or tossing the too-big ones would have meant a missed-opportunity for the photos! 🙂

  2. Do these pickle well? Read on the site you linked that fresh bay leaves crisp pickles without the need for alum. I haven’t use alum in *years* but I also haven’t had crisp pickles in years either. Hoping to give the bay leaves a try and see!

    1. I would give them a try! They produce A LOT! You will be in pickles for a long time:-) I would catch them smaller not as big as some of mine got-lol. I have read several blogs that say they pickle well, I don’t pickle my cukes, but I have no doubt they would be yummy:-)

      1. I just searced for “pickled Lemon Cucumbers” and found TONS of recipes. I figure they must be good since there are a lot of people doing it. Hmmmm…you are making me ponder, should try this next year…..I did try them in freezer pickles” and they were not too bad, but I like my cukes fresh:-) They sure look beautiful in the bottles and red peppers some people used:-) I am tempted-lol

  3. Robbie, we grow apple cucumbers here and they are very similar to these but white skinned, they are delicious. I will have to tell Roger to grow them vertically this year….forever telling him he needs to go up but he is stuck in his ways!
    Lovely photos 🙂

    1. Yum…I bet they are the same type:-) I had some apple cucumbers a few years ago and they were a different shape and not white, so I know there are different crosses here and there + it all depends on which person is saving the seed. Yum…I am tempted to do that next summer but I will have to get all the details from you since you are the master at preserving!:-) Do try them vertical and let me know how it goes. It does free up more space to grow other things!

  4. Just saw your comment here – last year we pickled them in white vinegar for the first time and they taste like fresh (except we put too much onion in) a good way to save the taste and very simple.

  5. These cucumbers look amazing Robbie. Here in Ireland I have to grow cucumbers inside. I have tried three green varieties this year and all have done better in our new greenhouse than in the polytunnel. I grow them up a wigwam of canes, but they grow so quick that some of the offshoots trail along the ground too. But I think you are right those that grow upright seem to produce more. I’m going to try your idea of ‘tuning up’ this weekend! Happy Gardening.

    1. That is interesting. To be honest, I never had any success with cucumbers until I started growing them vertically. My husband loves them so I knew we had to have cucumbers for his beloved BLT-lol. I started with some bamboo trellis one year. Before I grew them vertically, I always had issues with the cukes laying on the ground and never producing well.
      I have some of the vines trail off at the base of the arbor so I just prune them back or tie them up, but usually prune them and have found they keep on producing. I feel like I may of only needed one on each side this year but they were fun to grow! I put two on each side of the arbor and wonder if it was a bit too thick. I have tried it both ways and I still get a lot of cucumbers, so the jury is out on that one yet. I hope my tune up works this year. We are having a lot of rain this week and I worry about too much water. We shall see:-) Happy Tuning Up this weekend!

    1. I put two per side this year + I felt that worked fine. It did get a bit thick and they tried to travel away, but I cut them back late summer. I would say one per side might work, but I liked the full effect on the trellis/arbor + you can see inside they were filled with blossoms + cucumbers. The bees were happy, so I was too! I would try putting them 8-12inches apart and work with that and see how it goes. It all depends on what look you want. I start with about 4 and thin them out after they get about a foot tall. I usually take the two outside vines to climb the arbor or best 2 in a row for a trellis. I also have to tie them up uniil they attach on their own up the trellis/arbor. It takes about two feet and they take off. I also redirect the vines onto the trellis by tying them up for the first month. It really is a technique you get better with each time you try it + you might find your own way that works better! Just give it a go and you will enjoy not having to bend down and pick your cucumbers:-)

      1. Let me know how it goes + I look forward to hearing all about your vertical adventure in your new home:-) Happy GArdening with the wee little one too:-)

  6. My mother-in-law used to always raise lemon cucumbers. I remember that they were really tasty. I should look for some lemon cucumber seeds next year.

    1. If you want some I can save some seed for you just send me your address + I’ll send you some:-) or you can get them from Baker Creek, Sustainable Seed Company, + High Mowing seeds to name a few:-)

  7. I LOVE your posts, your combination of words (” bees humming inside and dancing between all the flowers”) and photos and I am magically transported, right there to your garden! I am going to try and get some seed for those cucumbers, they are so special!
    Karen

    1. :-)awww….I was so impressed with the bees this summer:-) It was facinating! I tried to get a picture of them dancing between the flowers, but they kept moving quickly. I usually can find bees hanging on a flower, but they were so busy moving from one flower to the other, I could never find them staying in one place! I have tried for the past few years to create a “bee haven” and now they are in my yard buzzing all the time. No one is ever hurt by the bees in our urban potager + I can see between all the homes that use chemicals… this is a place they can escape. I worry so much about the decline ( CCD) and our food supply. I try my best to pass the word +seed:-) These cucumbers are just amazing( the bees love working in them) + your ability to make beautiful food, I have no idea you will make these into lovely dishes! I tend to eat fresh food ( from the garden) but the yellow cukes with red peppers pickled tempts me-lovely in a jar + I have no doubt they are yummy!Do try them and check out growing them vertically:-) so much easier on your back,too-lol

  8. Another lovely post with your usual amazing photos. I have never seen these cucumbers before, they look so attractive and what a great way to grow them.

    1. Hi Chloris:-) I wrote in the comment section there are several types that appear to be simliar + Wendy from New Zealand said they grow one there called “apple cucumbers” + pick them at the pale white stage. Very interesting- how there are similiar types. They are called by a different name + develop different traits, for example, here you pick them light green/light yellow and they are sweet ) are a bit rounder (not apple like). Lemon heirloom cucumbers have been around since the 1800’s and I have no doubt there are crosses of this variety with other cucumbers. They are very flavorful:-) + they work well vertically, so I no longer have problems growing cucumbers!

    2. 🙂 also, thank you Chloris-I have stopped by your blog lately, and you are taking some nice photos,too:-) You have a larger garden and an amazing collection of plants to have fun taking photos!

  9. Your cucumber covered arbor is absolutely beautiful! A long ago, I grew roses and clematis on an arbor at our house in Evanston, and frankly … for all the effort and time I spent getting them to grow and bloom, it never really looked all that great. What you’ve done is SO MUCH better, much more creative and best of all, productive! I just love your lovely garden & your photographs are splendid! One question: have your lemon cukes suffered from mildew? My friend and I planted Persian and Armenian cucumbers (I think the Armenian cukes are actually a member of the melon family) and both have had terrible mildew. We’ve been picking lots of cucumbers but had to do a very extensive “clean up” last week to rid the plants of mildewed leaves. I think growing them up a trellis or arbor might make a big difference.

    1. I agree, food is a better use of space but a few roses are nice,too:-)….I feel you are right:-) growing on a trellis helps with the mildew on the leaves. I did not have any problems with any mildew this year but usually towards the end of August or September the leaves do not look as beautiful as they do in the middle of summer. I have had a lot of problems with mildew on the leaves when I had them on the ground.
      I grew my squash vertically this year also and no problems with mildew on the trellis/arbor. I feel the leaves dry out a bit better on the trellis/arbor than on the ground. If the they produced well and it was towards the end of the season, well that could just be what happens to most plants towards the end of growing season-just a thought-I don’t know for sure. I did not notice any mildew this year, but now the leaves are being beaten down with rain every day, I am noticing some mildew at times. The leaves don’t have a chance to dry off and were getting pretty thick in there, but once I cleared them out they are doing better. I am thinking about growing all my squash and cucumbers next year vertically together. I find they do better. I had no squash bugs, cucumber beetles, or vine borer in my garden:-) That is the first time in my organic gardening-not one!!!! Crazy:-)…it always is a learning process…so have to see what happens next year:-) Hope you are enjoying your New “return ” home:-) Happy Gardening:-)

  10. Hello Robbie… I recall reading about that post on the lemon cucumber… I can’t help admiring how cute they look… and how delicious looking they are too…

    1. Hi Lrong:-) they are cute:-) I tried the “Molokheiya” and I liked it a lot! Your seed germinated wonderfully+ I have an area devoted to it this summer:-) I need to try some over rice here in the next week. I added it to some garden soup I had and ate it raw-yum:-)

    1. You bet! I’ll send some your way:-) I have some from last year, but let me dry out the seed from this year and I’ll send you a package in the next 4 weeks:-) It would be a treat to share with you:-)I have your address on the seed package you sent my way. I’ll let you know when I send them. They are yummy! I have so much you can share it with your CSA, if you want:-) As you can see, I have enough for a few farms-lol. They make a lot of seed:-)

  11. I love coming for a visit to your garden Robbie, it’s not only gorgeous, organic, bee and insect filled and just plain outright scrumptious but it is also most educations. Ms Wendy should direct us all to how to preserve cukes in vinegar and I think I might give apple cucumbers (not sure we can get lemon ones here) a go this year. I usually grow little lebanese ones that have nice thin skin and that don’t get very big and that you can eat straight from the vine. I have some old bed frames in the shed that I am going to utilise this year to grow all sorts of things up…up…and AWAY! Love this post and that link is tucked under my belt now for cuke growing this season 🙂

    1. I love how we all learn from one another. Wendy is the Master of preserving what you grow! She is amazing:-) She makes it look easy when we all know it is not:-) With your large sanctuary you could grow enough for a village-that space is HUGE! Do the vertical on the edges around it and they can help you hold up the netting:-) Just like a little magical fort you enter…like when we use to put a linen over the dinning room table to create a fort for our kids…fun…and Adventure!

      1. Nope, we have a door and everything that we can shut against the possum (and Earl) invaders :). We planned it well as it had to last. Wendy should write a book. I know that there are many clueless people (like me) out there that would buy it as she and Roger are SO clever about making a bit go a long LONG way and that’s harder and harder to do these days. I think that what Wendy offers the most is hope. You go to her site thinking “what the heck can “I” do with what I have?!” and you come away buoyed with possibilities, hope and a burning desire to get stuck in. Now THAT is a great website. I get the same thing coming here! I look at what you have done and I start to get excited. You bring out the latent horticulturalist that got UBER excited back in 2009 and you make me want to race out and propagate. The motivation of a good website can’t be underestimated 🙂 By the way…I am going to throw a sheet over the kitchen table today so that Earl and I can play forts 🙂

      2. So true about Wendy:-) Her soap making is interesting + an art in her hands!
        I find towards the end of summer/early fall, I get tired + want to pull in and make some plans for next year. I am so glad you are excited this year it means I get to visit your site + read all about “The Sanctuary”…love the name…”Narf Sanctuary”….” Serendipity Sanctuary”…hmmmm could go many ways! Well, when I am designing new plans near the fire, I can enjoy your place and all your “propagating” will be inspiring for me, as I will be starting my little seedlings when you are in the middle of your harvest…isn’t this fun:-)
        Earl’s Fort-lol….my dogs are like my children…the thing I love most about our pit bulls is that they love to cuddle and go under the blankets…just like a fort!

      3. You can make a sheet fort too Ms Robbie! We could be sharing communal dog bonding under our kitchen tables in unison! 🙂 Only problem is I might need Stevie-boy to give me a hand to get back up again…just sayin’ 😉 I hope to be enthusiastic out the wazoo about Sanctuary and whatever you want to call it is A.O.K by me Ms Robbie. I just want it to work this year and start off with me being positive rather than clueless 😉

    1. I just grow a lot of them:-) I have had good success going vertical and won’t do them any other way. I am eager to try some in contaners next year.We grew some for my parents in containers and they did great!

  12. Congrats on your cukes! I have never had any luck but there’s always another planting season, right? PS, I think the companion planting system can really work. And your place is the proof!!!

    1. This cucumber is never bothered by the cucumber spotted and striped bug. It also is great for growing vertically. I never had success till I went vertical with my cucumber growing. Next year I am growing another nice one in containers:-) I grew them for my parents a few years ago and they did very well:-) I do believe in companion planting but they just can’t seem to find the scientific evidence to “prove” it or so they say!

  13. Hi Robbie… it’s been a long time since I last touched base… as always, I admire what you are doing… I am going to take up your offer and request some seeds for this cucumber, if you do not mind… they really look good and cute too…

    1. Hi Lrong:-) I have stopped by your blog, over the past few months and looked for you but you have been gone:-( Good to see you are back! I would be more than glad to send you some seeds. I have a lot saved from this year again. I am growing a new cucumber next year so I can get on a 3 year cycle with a few that we enjoy + will save seed. I am growing a small, ivory one in containers for my parents, next year. Cukes are great for seed saving they provide a lot for years! Good rotation one for seed saving!:-)
      Just send me your address to my e-mail:-) So glad you are back 🙂

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