How to Grow Pickling Cucumbers
Pickling cucumbers are those tiny little cucumbers that can grow to be two to four inches long and are the perfect size for making into pickles. Pickling cucumbers are not hard to grow and it is also quite easy to make pickles out of them. While longer cucumbers are often preferred for eating, pickling cucumbers taste just like other cucumbers and you can eat them as well as pickle them.
All types of cucumbers are fun to grow. In fact, if you love cucumbers, try growing many different kinds and sizes. That will not only produce an abundance of cucumbers, it will extend the harvest throughout the summer as cucumbers have different growing periods. You don’t need to specifically plant pickling cucumbers to pickle--you can pickle just about any type of cucumber, but their size is preferable and the skins are just a hair thicker, which helps in processing.
All cucumbers are grown exactly the same way. They are vines and they spread out over a large area during the growing season. Many people grow cucumbers on a trellis but others just let them spread out on the ground, which is absolutely fine unless for some reason, you ground remains very wet. Wet ground can cause a cucumber to rot. Healthy cucumber plants take anywhere from 50 to 70 days to harvest.
If you live in a colder region, don’t plant your cucumbers until all danger of frost is past. The day temperatures should be in the 60s. Cucumbers cannot withstand frost so if you do have them planted and a frost is predicted, you will need to cover them overnight. Cucumbers grow well from both seeds and transplants, but if you do live in an area of cold and snow, you will probably want to either buy transplants or start you seeds indoors six to eight weeks before it is time to plant them outside.
Some people plant cucumbers in rows and others in hills. Either way is perfectly correct--it just depends on your personal preference. In rows, cucumber seeds should be placed around an inch and a half deep and approximately three inches apart. If you are making hills, work the soil into mounds and then plant five seeds in each mound. Once they are growing well, you can thin to the three healthiest plants. If putting in transplants, make the distance in-between to be around six to eight inches and grow three cucumber plants in each hill. Hills should be at least three feet apart.
Pickling cucumbers do their best in soil that is well-drained. You should prepare the soil beforehand with plenty of organic matter, especially dried manure and compost. If you use synthetic fertilizers, they will need one that is high in nitrogen when the plants are young, and then a general fertilizer like 10-10-10 on the sides.
Cucumbers can be bothered by such pests as the cucumber beetle or the squash vine borer. The beetle can be spotted or striped and will eat the plant leaves. They can also spread disease among all of the plants. Bacterial and fungal diseases are the most frequent. The squash vine borer attacks all types of vine plants. It bores its way into the middle of the vine and will stay there until either physically removed or killed. There are other cucumber pests and diseases that affect plants in different locations. Ask your county agricultural extension agent about the most common pests and diseases for cucumbers in your area, and find out what they think are the best treatments.