Cucumber is from the gourd family or Cucurbitaceae, similar to watermelon, pumpkin, and squash. Its cultivation started about 3,000 years ago in India, but it did not take long before it spread to other countries, especially in China. Ancient Romans and Greeks are also amongst the first ones to use cucumber. The fruit of cucumber is botanically recognized as a fake berry. It is long and round, but its appearance, including color and size, will depend largely on the specific cultivar that you will plant.
One of the ways to classify cucumbers is on the basis of how they grow. In this case, two of the most common options are vining and bush. Vining cucumber is the more common choice if you want a plant to grow outdoors. Because it crawls, you need to provide trellis to support its extensive growth. If you intend to grow the plant indoors and in containers, opt for the bush cucumber. It is more compact, and hence, making it perfect if you have space limitations. Even if they are small, they can have abundant yield, especially if you pay attention to proper care and maintenance.
Planting and Growing Conditions
To start growing cucumbers, the first thing that you need to do is to purchase healthy seeds. As much as possible, opt for hybrid seeds that will not need pollination. This is important because the plant will be staying indoors, and hence, pollination can be a bit of a challenge. See to it as well that it is a dwarf variety, which will allow you to save space.
Next, choose your container. Even if you are planting a bush or dwarf variety of cucumber, it is still best to use a large pot. This will eliminate the need to transplant once the plant grows larger. A hanging pot will also be a good choice. The pot can be made from any material. The important thing is for it to have drainage holes at the bottom, which will prevent the water from being stuck.
At the bottom of the pot, place a thin layer or pebbles or clay shards. This will help to improve the drainage, and hence, will make the roots less prone to diseases. Fill the container with your choice of potting soil. As much as possible, use equal parts of compost and soil. The addition of organic matter will improve the nutrients in the soil, which can help speed up the germination of the seeds.
Create holes using your finger. Fill each hole with four to five cucumber seeds. See to it that the hole has a depth of at least half an inch. To add, make sure as well to maintain the right space in between the holes so that that they will not end up crowding the pot. After sowing the seeds, water it, but make sure that it will not be soggy.
Once you are done planting, look for an indoor location that will receive plenty of sun but there should be no direct heat, especially from gas appliances. As much as possible, see to it that the plant will receive up to six hours of sun in a day.
Need more reasons to eat cucumber? Here are some of the health benefits that you can enjoy from this vegetable:
- Provides Hydration: Cucumber is made up of 95% water. For this reason, this will make a good choice for rehydration. While providing the body with hydration, it also gets rid of the toxins.
- Aids in Weight Loss: Those who are struggling to lose weight might also find a little help in the form of cucumbers. It is low in calories, making it a healthy alternative to some of the most common snacks. You can indulge without the guilt!
- Lowers Blood Sugar: For people who have diabetes, eating cucumber will also bring tons of benefits. It can control blood sugar levels. It also contains a hormone that is essential in the production of insulin.
- Improves Digestion: Fiber and water are two of the most important things for your digestive health. These two are also abundant in cucumber. It can be effective in bulking up stool and preventing constipation, among other digestive problems.
- Improves Brain Health: For a healthier brain, eating cucumbers will help. It will lessen the likelihood of suffering from neurological disorders, especially for people who are aging. It will also be effective in maintaining cognitive function.
Pests and Diseases
Some of the diseases that can be apparent in cucumbers include angular leaf spot, bacterial wilt, bacterial leaf spot, and anthracnose. They affect mostly the leaves and the crop itself. In worst cases, the crop will be unmarketable and unfit for human consumption. For pests, meanwhile, some of the most common problems include cucurbit leaf beetles, aphids, stink bugs, thrips, and flea beetles.
Care and Maintenance
To ensure the best crop yield from your plant, exert effort in taking care of it. With this, below are some of the most important things to keep in mind:
- Cucumber needs a lot of water to survive. With this, hydrating the plant is one of the most important tasks, especially during the time that it is fruiting and flowering. If it receives less water than what it requires, there is a possibility that the cucumber will end up being bitter. Deep watering is best to do at least once or twice weekly.
- Adding mulch on the top layer of the soil will also help to make the plant healthy. This will help in conserving and retaining moisture. The best time to apply much is right after summer or when the temperature becomes warmer.
- The application of fertilizer will also be necessary at one point. Organic matter is your best bet when it comes to fertilizing. The right time to fertilize is after the appearance of the plant’s first flower. If you see that the leaves are turning yellow, this is an indication that you have to apply fertilizer with nitrogen.
- Harvest the cucumber about 50 to 70 days after planting. Do not wait for the cucumber to grow too large. Frequent harvesting is good as it can encourage successive growths. The larger the cucumber grows, the more bitter they will be.
With plenty of water and light, it will be easy to grow cucumber even indoors. As much as possible, opt for the bush varieties as they are more compact and will require less space. Vining varieties will also survive indoors, although you have to build a trellis to support their growth.