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Grow Organic Cucumbers Vegetable Garden and make Great Pickles - Grow Organic Pickle Cucumbers

Holland Variety Cucumber Grown Organically in a GreenhouseHolland Variety Cucumber Grown Organically in a Greenhouse
Summer is the time of year when we all crave refreshing salads and cool pickles to go along with our burgers and other backyard Bar-B-Q fare. A ready supply of cucumbers in our organic garden, will provide us with a convenient source of healthy, refreshing ingredients for cooling summer meals. Here's a recipe to get you ready to grow:

Organic Sweet Refrigerator Pickles

These are delicious as a condiment or a snack!
Prep time, 15 minutes.
To make the Refrigerator Pickle:

Use within one month. This recipe will make approximately 1 quart of refrigerator pickles.

Source: University of Missouri Cooperative Extension

Growing Organic Cucumbers

Cucumbers can thrive almost anywhere: they grow well in all areas of the US and can be a part of even the smallest organic vegetable garden, where using compact varieties and trellising them can save space. Summer is the best time of year to grow cucumbers because they grow best when temperatures stay above 60oF.

Cucumber seeds are fairly large and germinate quickly if soil temperatures are warm (above 70oF). If the soil temperature is cool, transplanting is a way to get a jump start on the growing season. Organic transplants are easy to grow : all you need are seeds, organic potting mix, containers and a warm, sunny windowsill. Plants should be placed in rows 5-6 feet apart and about 2 feet apart within the row.

Trellising is not necessary for the cucumbers to produce but you will get straighter fruits if you do so. Trellising can also save a lot of space and add an interesting design element to your organic garden. Cucumbers are heavy, so make sure to build them a sturdy trellis.

Cucumbers need lots of water during the growing season and are ready to harvest in approximately 48-63 days from planting, depending on the variety and growing conditions. Expect to harvest many pounds of cucumbers from each plant, and pick them daily to help your plants produce fruit for as long a time as possible.

Cucumber Varieties

Generally, people are most familiar with what are known as American slicing cucumbers. These are the type of cucumber found in salads and sandwiches from coast to coast and include varieties such as Marketmore 76 and Olympian. Pickling cucumbers are also a familiar sight, although we usually only see them after we have pulled them out of a Vlassic jar and are putting them on our plates! Pickling cucumbers are as easy to grow as slicing cukes and after harvest, it is simple to turn them into all kinds of refrigerator pickles and relishes, which are about as easy to make as cole slaw, potato salad and other summer side dishes.

Specialty cucumbers such as seedless varieties or long, slender Asian varieties grow better if they are trellised and are usually less disease resistant than slicing and pickling cucumbers. They are worth some extra effort because they produce sweet, seedless, thin-skinned, burpless fruits that are otherwise only available in gourmet or specialty stores at steep prices of around $2.00 each. Holland and Tasty Jade are good specialty varieties to try.

Cucumber Pest and Disease Control

Cucumber beetles and various bacterial, fungal and viral diseases can be a problem for these plants. Cucumber beetles can be controlled organically by covering the plants with floating row cover or by spraying plants with pyrethrin or rotenone (be careful when working with these sprays--follow label instructions, wear protective clothing and spray on a still day).

Disease control is easiest to achieve by planting disease-resistant varieties. Olympian, for example, is resistant to almost all major diseases of cucumber plants, including powdery mildew and cucumber mosaic virus. Making sure that the plants have good air circulation around them (trellising can accomplish this) and minimal numbers of disease-spreading insect pests attacking them are also very important disease control strategies.

If you give them a little care, your plants will reward you with daily harvests of cool, crisp cucumbers to make into pickles, relishes, soups and salads.

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