How to grow humble cukes

Doug YoungVegetables Are People Too

My dad, a cattle rancher, used to insist sheep were animals who wished to die. As a vegetable gardener who has planted many over-aged cucumber seedlings, I believe the same thing about cukes.

If you must plant cucumber seedlings, do so when they are only 2 or 3 inches tall. To have some fun, plant some seeds in 70-degree moist soil around the plant and watch the race. Often, those from seeds will pop up quickly and create thriving plants. My favorites are the burpless variety.

Any salad maker knows that crunchy cukes are mostly water. Not surprisingly, in order to grow well, cukes must receive at least 1 inch of water per week. Absolutely. At blossoming, work a little balanced fertilizer like 10-10-10 into the soil around the roots.

As hot weather arrives, stand back and harvest. It is a highpoint of summer fun to stroll out to the garden each morning and count the new cukes that collect in your hands. A plastic bag might be handy. Hold onto the vines and clip the cukes off with your thumbnail.

After caching cukes in the refrigerator, I fill a peach box to deliver to the food bank. More than once, my box of cukes has failed to make it to the Food Bank door. I am intercepted by a few customers who admire the entire box of cukes. I hand it over with a smile and receive smiles in return.

This is part of the fun of gardening.

Doug Young is a retired WSU professor who loves to share his 65 years of gardening experience. Visit for links to all of Doug’s previous columns.

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