...Organic National Pickling Cucumber - A cucumber for all your needs! These short, thick cukes with blunt ends are perfect for pickles and delicious for slicing into salads. These average 6” and are slightly tapered to fit in a pickle jar; skin is...
...Organic Silver Slicer Cucumber - A creamy white slicing cucumber with excellent flavor and lovely smooth skin! Thirty-five seedsters can’t be wrong: Silver Slicer cut through the competition to take not the silver but the gold in our 2013...
...Organic Green Finger Cucumber - Beit alpha type, with thin skin, exceptional flavor and a small seed cavity. Beit alphas are similar to European slicers but shorter, averaging 8-10”. Green Finger has more durability than most varieties of this...
Cold-Tolerant Varieties for Season Extension
Greetings from Tom
Trials Update - Preparing Garden Beds For Winter
DYI Seed Saving: Melons, Tomatoes, Peppers
Growing Tips: Garlic
Farmer Paul's Row - The Joys of Remay
Katie's Kitchen - Abundant Greens Savory Tart
Upcoming Food & Farming Events
Cold-tolerant varieties for season extension!
The seasons are changing, but you can continue to grow these great varieties, in hoop-houses or low tunnels, for a late season harvest. You’ll need to add about 14 days to the days to maturity date due to lower light and cooler temperatures.
High Mowing DMR
White Beauty Radish
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Greetings From Tom
Hello growers and gardeners!
September is already bringing cooler evenings and a little change in the foliage. We did, however, just have yet another week of intense heat. Many years, we never get those temperatures at all, let alone in September. In a year with a very early spring and the hottest summer in recent memory, I am greatly interested in what this fall may bring. So far, this season has meant less diseases on our crops and earlier harvests, both of which look to reduce our stress and workload this fall.
On our Annual Field Days (now Kingdom Farm & Food Days) on August 22nd, the weather wasn't as perfect - a little drizzle for most of the day. That didn't seem to bother the almost 300 people who came for tours, tastings, a free meal and a bonfire. I was struck, as I am every year, by what an age range there was – all the way from a few elderly gardeners trying to get around our field with walkers to toddlers, walking slowly and carefully in their own way. Gardening and farming has returned to being of interest to a new generation and there were dozens of young farming families with their kids playing all over the place. This event is a great collaboration between High Mowing Organic Seeds, the New England Culinary Institute and The Center for an Agricultural Economy. The day before our Field Day featured more events, including about 20 farms open to the public, a big localvore potluck at Pete's Greens farm in Craftsbury, Vermont and more. Over 300 people were a part of that day too. Thanks to everyone who came and shared in the excitement of our region’s agricultural revival. We hope to see you for our 2011 Field Days in late August, or even sooner for our next Growers’ Walk coming up on 9/22 from 4-6pm. See details below and we hope to see you there.
President & Founder
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Trials Update: Preparing Beds for Winter
Heather Jerrett - High Mowing Organic Seeds' Trials Manager
September in Vermont! In the High Mowing Organic Seeds trial gardens, it’s a time when all of our warm season summer crops like melons, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplants and peppers are coming to an end and the late season crops like pumpkins, winter squash, gourds, leeks and onions are just around the corner. This year in Wolcott, it seemed like an endless summer, with day after day of hot, sunny weather. We were able to evaluate crops like melons, tomatoes and peppers with gusto, when usually we are lucky to see which ones will actually produce in our northern climate. The melon taste test spoiled our taste buds with sugary goodness, making us turn up our noses at anything less than perfect.
As we move into the autumn season we are turning in finished crops and preparing our fields for winter rest. There are many ways to prepare your garden or farm for the winter and for the following season, and many factors that affect what you need to do. In our trial gardens, once we are finished with a crop we disc it into the soil with our tractor and plant a cover crop. When the soil is warm, plant material can still break down easily and plant debris will not over-winter in the soil. If it is later in the season and the weather is cool, the plants may not be able to break down in the soil. In this case we pull the plants and incorporate them into the compost pile. We do not want plant debris to remain in the fields over the winter because if there is any disease on the plant material it may over-winter and inoculate the garden the following year. With this in mind, it is also good practice to turn your compost pile in order to make sure all plant material is breaking down. This is especially important concerning potatoes and late blight. The disease can only persist on living plant material. Dormant potato tubers, if left in the ground, become an excellent host and inoculum the next season.
Cover Crops We Use and Why
In our trial gardens, we use a number of cover crops for various reasons:
When we remove summer crops we plant a mix of peas and oats. We use this mix in between wide rows as well. The oats act as a trellis for the peas. When oats begin to flower we mow down or incorporate them into the soil.
To cover bare ground left by crops that come out in the middle of the season, we use buckwheat. We choose buckwheat for this slot because there is not enough time for peas and oats to be as productive as we would like before the end of the season. Buckwheat also serves as a great smother crop for weeds and pulls minerals out of the soil for future uptake by plants.
Later in the season – August and September – we use winter rye. Winter rye is an excellent crop for over-wintering. Because it is a perennial and will begin to grow again in the spring, it is important to allow enough time for the crop to re-grow in spring and then incorporate before planting. For this reason, we do not use winter rye where any very early season crops are to be planted the following year (like onions, leeks and spring greens).
Choosing The Right Cover Crop
Choosing the right cover crop for the time of year and for your specific crop rotation is important. There are essentially three types of cover crop available: grains, green manures and legumes. Each of these types essentially provide cover for your soil but can also be used for specific purposes.
Grains are crops that produce large seeds that are also commonly used for food. Some common examples of grains are oats, winter rye, and buckwheat. As a cover crop, they are used as a green manure and are not left to go to seed. Their main purpose is to cover the ground, provide structural support for other cover crops and add organic material to the soil in the form of cellulose that can then be broken down.
Green manures are crops that are grown specifically to replenish organic matter in the soil. Nutrients are released into the topsoil as they decompose. Most grow quickly and break down easily to allow nutrients to be captured for crop production. Many green manures work well as mixes with grains and legumes. Some common examples of green manures are Annual Ryegrass, mustard, radish, and millet.
Legumes are plants that provide nitrogen through Rhizobia bacteria that have a symbiotic relationship with the plants, feeding on the roots while supply nitrogen to the plant. Common examples of leguminous cover crops are vetch, alfalfa, field peas, and clovers.
For more information about cover cropping or winterizing your garden check out these helpful links:
An Introduction to Cover Crop Species for Organic Farming Systems
Cover Crops Fact Sheet
How to Winterize Your Garden Tools
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DYI Seed Saving: Melons, Tomatoes & Peppers
- Megen Toaldo, Sales Associate
Cooler nights are settling in here in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont reminding us all that the summer days are dwindling. Many of us have been busy canning, freezing, drying, fermenting…putting by little bits of summer. So why not take it a step further and try saving some of your own seed for next planting season. Collecting and saving seed from certain fruits and vegetables can be really easy and rewarding.
In our region, with damp weather, a short growing season, and sub-zero temperatures during winter, we have the best success saving seed from fruits such as zucchini, summer squash, winter squash, tomatoes, peppers, melon, and others like these. The reason for this is because the seed of these crop types mature quickly within our short season and the seeds remain protected from the elements inside the fruit, therefore you are more likely to produce higher quality, disease-free seed.
Let’s focus on the easiest of the aforementioned, which are tomatoes, peppers, and melons. The seed produced from all of these crop types will become mature at the same time that the fruit is ripe and ready for consumption, therefore you can harvest the food for eating while at the same time scoop out the seeds and save them for next season. Before you begin, though, there are a few things you might want to know.
Without going into a whole lot of detail about genetics, I will suggest saving seed from open pollinated varieties as opposed to hybrids. A hybrid plant will produce viable seed, but the genetic traits exhibited may not be the same as the plant they came from, whereas the traits from open pollinated varieties will be same in the next generation. Next, you will have the best success if you have planted only one variety of each melons, tomatoes, and peppers. For instance, if I only planted one type of melon), say Emerald Gem, (and my garden or farm is far enough away from my neighbor’s), then there is no chance that the seed will have crossed with another melon plant and the seed I harvest will be true-to-type (rather than an unintentional hybrid, or crossing). If I planted three types of melons, there is a strong chance that insects may have cross-pollinated the varieties…resulting in mixed genetics and hybrid seed – which will produce a plant with any number of combined traits, maybe good, maybe not so good, but certainly unpredictable. There is less of a chance for cross-pollination with peppers and even less of a chance with tomatoes because these are self-pollinated. Cross-pollination would happen merely by chance instead of by design.
Just follow these simple instructions and you can begin to enjoy the art of seed saving.
Insect-pollinated annual. Unless hand pollinating, isolate different varieties by 1/4 mile to prevent cross-pollination. Tree lines, woods or buildings separating fields can allow for shorter distances. Harvest the melons when ripe for eating. Remove the seeds and pulp and rinse under water until seeds are clean. A light fermentation with a little water can sometimes help in the cleaning process. Simply add 1 cup of water for every cup of seeds and pulp and let sit in a warm place for 2-3 days, stirring daily. Then rinse under water and allow seeds to dry on a plate, cloth or similar clean surface. After they are rinsed, use a 1/2" or 1/4" screen to help with cleaning. Melon seed will remain viable for 4-6 years under cool and dry storage conditions.
Self-pollinated annual. Different tomato varieties rarely cross with one another so isolation distances are not generally required. The seed is mature when the tomato itself is ripe. Squeeze the seeds and juice into a jar and add about the same amount of water. Allow this liquid to ferment in a warm place for 3-5 days, stirring daily, until the seeds have sunk to the bottom of the jar. Rinse the seeds and allow to dry on a paper plate or cloth. Use of a 1/8" screen can help with cleaning. Tomato seeds remain viable for 4-10 years under cool and dry storage conditions.
Self-pollinated but can have up to 20% insect pollinated. 200-300 feet is sufficient for isolation between varieties. Peppers need to be red (or whatever color they ripen to) and can be cut open and the seeds dried on a plate or cloth. Use a 1/8" screen to help with cleaning. Pepper seeds can remain viable for 3 years under cool and dry storage conditions.
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Growing Tips: Garlic
- Megen Toaldo, Sales Associate
Aromatic, flavorful and healthful – there are hundreds of garlic varieties, but they all fall into two basic categories: hardneck or softneck. Softneck varieties are best grown in warmer climates. They tend to have a stronger flavor, a larger number of smaller cloves per bulb, and a longer shelf life. The stems are more pliable and are therefore more suitable for braiding. Hardneck varieties, categorized by their hard, woody stem, tend to have a milder flavor, with larger, but fewer cloves per bulb. Most hardneck varieties don’t store as long, but are hardier in colder climates. While these tendencies are a good guide, there are exceptions to the rules. For instance, if you are in a cold climate, looking for a robust flavored hardneck variety with good shelf life, our German Extra Hardy is an excellent choice. If you are in a warm climate, and would like to try a hardneck variety, you will find your best success with our Chesnok Red.
Once you’ve chosen your variety, you will want to figure out how much to plant and when to plant it. Garlic bulbs generally yield anywhere from 4 to 8 times their weight at harvest, but vary based on the variety and growing conditions. When to plant depends greatly on where you live. In northern climates, garlic is best planted in the fall. The cloves should be given enough time to develop a root system without producing top growth. In southern climates, garlic should be planted in early spring, although the seed garlic must be chilled first in order to break dormancy. It is planted in late February or March after the threat of winter cold damage has passed.
Now it is time to prepare your soil for planting. Garlic prefers loose, loamy soil with lots of organic matter. The bulbs should be separated just before planting, leaving their protective papery layer in tact. You will want to plant your largest cloves, while keeping aside the smaller ones for fresh eating, drying or pickling. If you are planning to mulch, plant each clove 2 inches beneath the soil with its basal root end down and its pointed tip up. Without mulch, the cloves should be planted 3 to 4 inches deep. Allow for 4 to 6 inches between cloves and 18 to 24 inches between rows to produce the largest bulbs. Some folks have success with tighter spacing. This tends to yield a larger number of smaller bulbs equaling a higher total weight per square foot of garden space.
While it is not recommended in wet climates, mulching your garlic can be very beneficial. This is especially true in cold climates where a good, thick layer of mulch will help protect your garlic against winterkill. Most people use straw, hay, or plastic mulch. The mulch helps to moderate the soil temperature through freezing and thawing, and also helps conserve moisture, while at the same time keeping the weed competition low.
In the spring, your garlic tops will poke up through the mulch and begin their growth spurt. If it is a cool spring, and garlic is off to a slow start, you can remove some of the mulch, but be sure to leave a decent layer in order to preserve the mulch’s benefits. Hardneck varieties will produce a tall, curling flower stalk called a scape. These scapes should be cut to encourage the plant to concentrate its energy into producing a larger bulb. Scapes are edible and delicious and can be enjoyed steamed or in stir-fries.
Garlic does best when soil moisture remains fairly even, but prefers a dry spell for 2 to 3 weeks prior to harvest. Too much moisture towards the end will encourage mold. Once about half of the bottom leaves have died down, usually mid-late summer, it likely is time for harvest. You may want to inspect a couple of bulbs first, as browning leaves are a good indicator, but only an approximation of maturity. Harvest your bulbs by loosening the soil with a shovel or fork and pull the plants up by hand.
For fresh eating, enjoy your garlic any time after harvest, although, if you plan to store your garlic, it must be cured first. Cure garlic in a dimly lit area with plenty of airflow for 2 to 3 weeks after harvest. After the curing process is complete, you can braid your softneck garlic or trim the stems of your hardneck varieties to about an inch above the bulb. Store your garlic where it continues to have plenty of airflow with optimal temperatures being between 35 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit with 65-70% humidity. Well-cured and well-stored garlic keeps from 6-12 months depending on the variety, so that you can enjoy your harvest all winter long.
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Farmer Paul's Row: The Joys of Remay -
Paul Betz, Sales Associate and owner of High Ledge Farm in Woodbury, VT
I have this love hate thing going on with remay. I love what it can do for the farm, and I end up using a lot of it. From the early spring to the late fall, it’s everywhere. Granted, it’s a pain sometimes, like when it blows away and there’s only one person around to reset the row. Or when you are being really careful and you still manage to tear a new hole in the piece. And the shudder I get when it sticks to my chapped hands. But when you take a peak under the cover in early spring and see this beautiful growth, or in the fall when you come to the field that’s frozen in white and see undamaged plants underneath, that’s the love thing.
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, “remay” is a spun-bonded polyester fabric that has become indispensable on most farms. It’s available in various widths and lengths as well as weights, and different “flavors” have different applications. The higher the number, the heavier the weight, and subsequently the more frost protection will be offered. The flip side is that the increased protection reduces the amount of light that gets through. I use the AG 19 as a good overall grade. I also use hoops to keep the fabric off the plants. I use a 9 gauge smooth galvanized wire that I cut myself to around 72”. I place them every 10 feet or so in the row and then use soil to hold the remay in place. Quick and easy, and worth the extra work. I can get plants out much sooner in the season, and they like growing under there. I keep my basil covered all season, and it loves it. No bugs, no wind, and the quality of the leaves is excellent.
I like to use a lot of it in the spring, when weather is finicky and unpredictable. I also like to find parthenocarpic varieties for my earliest plantings. These plants don’t need to be pollinated to make a viable fruit, so I can leave the covers on. Partenon zucchini and Saber cucumber are two examples.
In the heat of the summer, the extra heat can be too much for some plants, so I switch to a lighter cover. I farm near lots of open fields, and when they are mowed all the Tarnished Plant Bugs (TPB) come calling and can destroy the place pretty quickly. I throw the lighter covers on and ride out the storm till the grass grows back and the TPB goes home again. The lighter grade is good for keeping out all kinds of insects, and is invaluable at keeping cabbage maggot out of radishes and flea beetles off arugula, mibuna, and other brassicas. Be sure to put it on as soon as you seed and bury the edge well.
Now that fall is here (soon any way) I am using the AG 19 again. When the temps get colder, I will put on two layers, extending its frost protection. While it’s rated at 4 degrees of frost protection, different crops have different sensitivities, and I use those numbers as a guide only. I figure each layer gives a few degrees, and I have gotten peppers through a 26 degree night by having three layers on. As a market grower, having certain crops later in the season translates into more income. A little extra work pays off.
Right now I am planting lots of lettuce in the field. I am covering it as I plant, in hopes that the extra heat from the remay will push it a little faster. We are losing a lot of light each day, but my plan is to get it to size and have it hold in the field. My favorite variety, Magenta, is pretty rugged, and can freeze and then thaw a few times without a loss of quality. A few years ago, I had a lot of it in the field and some heavy snow was forecasted. I took a shovel and dug up the heads, put them in a crate and took them to the greenhouse where they held until my market day. It was extra work, but it saved the work I already had in from being wasted.
Your row covers can last for three or more years if you take care of them. I stuff mine into a grain sack once it’s dry. If things are going well, I even make notes about the length and condition of the cover on the bag so I can know what I am getting next year. It’s better to know about that hole while it’s still in the bag.
Enjoy this procession to fall, and I hope things are going well for you and yours.
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Katie's Kitchen - Abundant Greens Savory Tart
- Katie Lavin, Wholesale Sales Manager
I had more misses then hits in my Hardwick community garden plot, mostly due to neglect (there’s always next year!), but the produce coming out of the High Mowing Seeds’ 3-acre trial garden has been nothing short of spectacular. Jennifer, Heather, Tony II, and Caleb, along with interns Dean and Tim, along with the soil, sun, and rain, have turned our awesome seeds into an incredible array of deliciousness. Twice a week they arrange a selection of produce near the exit door, so the rest of the staff can leave the building with armfuls and basket loads of produce. We also get to participate in more than a few taste tests of tomatoes, melons, and corn. Since the High Mowing staff gets our produce needs met with a fraction of the harvest, most of the produce from the Trial Gardens goes to the Vermont Food Bank. Like literally tons and tons of produce. Yay High Mowing Trials Team! And Vermont Food Bank for coordinating harvests and distribution around the state to make fresh food accessible to all.
Notes from Tom
Off-Line Sales List
Variety Highlights - Peppers, Tomatoes & Eggplants
Getting Started - Peppers, Tomatoes & Eggplants
Hardening Off - Getting Ready for the Real World
News and Events
Localvore Recipes - Friday Lunches
Notes From Tom
Hello everyone, and welcome to our March edition of The Seed Bin!
Spring is probably arriving or well on its way in your area, even though it is not even thinking of it up here in Northern Vermont yet. We just got another foot of snow and last night it was -8°F. The light is returning and those with over-wintered crops in greenhouses are no doubt seeing the growth rates pick up in the spinach, claytonia and their other hardy green crops. Every day we are hearing from all of you about the arrival of spring across the country so while it may make us a bit exhausted to still be in the midst of winter, we love receiving your reports of plowing fields, firing up greenhouses and robins singing. It gives us a promise of warm weather on the way.
For those of you who have been keeping up with the news from our town and surrounding area, the excitement is continuing to build momentum. There have been numerous requests for myself and others involved in the Center for an Agricultural Economy to speak all over the country about our rural revolution on the state of food and our economy in agricultural communities. Our food system that we have in Vermont is also getting national attention and many are coming to visit to see what it is about. You can always check out the In the News page on the High Mowing website, but here are some links to a few articles from the last few months that I think are especially interesting.
Thanks again for all of your enthusiastic support - this year is turning out to be one for the record books.
Sincerely, Tom Stearns
NY Times Oct. 2008
Gourmet Magazine Oct. 2008
Vermont Life - spring 2009
Vermont Business People Feb. 2009
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Off-Line Sales List
Announcing our new Off-line Sale List! At High Mowing we use a set of in-house germination standards that is in most cases far above the federal rule. Our in-house lab allows us to test seed on a continual basis in order to send our customers seed that meets our standards. In some cases, certain lots may fall below our standards and are no longer available for sale through our catalog. Over time we have accumulated a good amount of seed that has fallen below our standards, but still has value as seed nonetheless. With this in mind, we have created the “Off-line Sale” list, offering seed with a lower germination rate which can usually be compensated for by overseeding, therefore making the seed deserving of a better life than the dumpster or as art projects for kids. We are offering this seed at significant discounts, sometimes up to 80% off. This can be a great way to get seed at a low price for the right project!
Our Off-line Sale List is updated and sent out monthly by email. The most recent germination test results, quantity and specific instructions about ordering are included in this monthly listing. Click here to subscribe to the Off-line Sale List. (offlinesales "at" highmowingseeds.com) Note: Off-line Sales are handled separately from catalog orders. Please refer to the link below for orders or inquiries.
You can e-mail our Off-line Sale representative if you have any questions.
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Variety Highlights - Peppers, Tomatoes & Eggplants
The Solanaceous crops are some of the biggest highlights of the garden and bread-winners at the market. From heirloom favorites to cranking hybrids these guys have been a part of our culinary delights for some time and are some of the first vegetables people learn to grow on their own. Most beginners buy plants at garden centers and have limited access to the wide selection of variety available. Below we have created a short list of varieties we love here at High Mowing. Paul has also put together some useful tips for starting seeds that may be helpful at any level of experience.
Black Hungarian pepper: A favorite in our 2007 trials for its beautiful peppers as well as ornamental plants. One of the first out of 60 ethnic pepper varieties to set and ripen in our 90 day season. Above average yield and quality. Absolutely stunning. Tall plants are sturdy and can support floating row cover if needed late in season, a real plus for us. We grew this variety for seed in 2008 and were happily surprised to see a few other seed producers thought it was a knock out too.
Atris F1 pepper: Another standout in our trials since 1996 and always the first sweet pepper to ripen. Also the most popular variety picked by our staff and neighbors for dinner. Sweet bright red, candy flavored peppers have a conical shape. Atris was originally bred for greenhouse production and will set well under temperature extremes when other standard field hybrids do not making it suitable for field production as well. Plants can be pruned and trellised if grown indoors but will hold to a compact size outdoors too.
Black Beauty eggplant: A top notch OP Italian variety with a unique pleat that is subtle but distinct to this variety. Black Beauty has always performed well in our trials, pumping out high yields of moderate-large sized eggplants with no spines. Plants produce perfect fruits that ripen early. Plants tend to be tall and benefit from staking, but we just plant close together and they are fine. Introduced in 1910 by Burpee Seeds, Black Beauty is closing in on 100 years and going.
Falcon F1 eggplant: Our first hybrid eggplant with organic certification. Falcon produces medium-sized smooth fruits with a small calyx. The fruit does have spines. The most notable features of Falcon are its yield potential and its ability to keep setting fruit when other varieties have slowed down. Falcon was bred as a greenhouse variety and is tolerant to temperature extremes making it suitable for field production as well. Plants can be pruned and trellised if grown indoors but will hold to a compact size outdoors too.
Cherokee Purple tomato – This is a long-time favorite, but only recently has it become a widely known specialty heirloom in the marketplace. Black tomatoes in general are exceptionally rich in flavor (often described as earthy) and are native to the Ukraine. Check out this Wikipedia article for a great history of Cherokee Purple.
Greenhouse tomatoes – Suzanne F1, Lola F1, Arbason F1, - Whoo hoo a greenhouse tomato with exceptional flavor you will remember. Lola was an immediate standout for flavor in our 2007 and 2008 trials. Fruits sweeten up early. Tomatoes should be picked early for market in order to avoid cracking if left to ripen on the vine. Lola is best grafted to increase vigor. Arabason on the other hand is a standout for vigor and fruit quality, but must be kept on the vine to ripen in order for its sugars to develop, but when ripe is also top notch in the flavor factory. Arbason is loaded with disease resistance and will hold on vine without compromising quality. So hands off till fruit is ready and you will be more than pleased. Suzanne is an amazing Saladette size cherry with early ripening indoors or outside. Plants set fruit at temperature extremes and seem almost Parthenocarpic. A real winner every year, I can not keep the crew out of them.
Lola F1 Hybrid
Arbason F1 Hybrid
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Shop Cucumber Seeds
Organic Cucumbers - Growing and Seed Saving Info
(Cucumis sativus) are a warm season
tender annual in the Cucurbitiacea
family, which includes melons, summer squash and winter squash, and gourds. Cucumbers
have a variety of shapes, sizes and uses:
Picklers are small and spiny and good for preservation
European slicers have a thin
skin which doesn’t store as well but
is very tender and delicious
American slicers have a thicker skin which makes them sturdier and
good for shipping.
Specialty cucumbers in shapes ranging from little spheres to long
skinny curly types in gold and green.
Soil and Nutrient Requirements
prefer well drained fertile soil high in organic matter with neutral pH. Cucumbers
are heavy feeders. Sidedressing is recommended one week after blossoming and
again 3 weeks later, especially if there are signs of deficiency. Nitrogen
deficiencies cause yellowing, and bronze leaves are a sign of potassium
slicing cukes 12-24", for pickling cukes 8-12”, for greenhouse cukes
spacing: for slicing and greenhouse cukes 5-6’, for pickling cukes 3-6’.
When to Sow
can be direct seeded or transplanted one week after all danger of frost has
passed. Start transplants 3-4 weeks before planting date. Plants with one or
two true leaves transplant best. Optimal soil temperature for germination is
85°F. Soil temperatures below 50°F slow growth and impair water uptake by
roots. Cucumbers prefer an air temperature of at least 70°F during the day,
60°F at night. Plastic mulch and row covers are commonly used for field
cucumbers to increase soil and air temperature and ward off insects. Make
sure to remove row covers when plants begin to flower to ensure pollination.
Greenhouse cucumbers should
be kept pruned to one central leader and trellised with a wire that can
slide laterally to create space as vines grow. Greenhouse cucumbers are
parthenocarpic, able to produce fruit without pollination. Seedless
cucumbers are attained by excluding insects from the greenhouse. If
insects are present, they will pollinate flowers and fruits will produce
Cucumbers can be misshapen
from low fertility or poor pollination
Cucumbers require consistent moisture to develop good quality fruits. With
changing moisture levels, the fruits may be malformed. If they develop under
dry conditions they may be bitter.
(1.19 avg) seeds/oz, 16-21M (17M avg) seeds/lb. M=1,000
seeds/100’ (~1/8 oz/100’), 48M seeds/acre (~3 lb/acre) using 6 seeds/ft, 6’
plants begin to bear, it is important to harvest every day or two. Plants
carrying overripe fruit will slow production.
store well for up to 7-10 days at 50-55°F with 95% relative humidity and can
become injured at temperatures lower than 50°F. Thin skinned cucumbers are
best stored wrapped in plastic.
Striped or Spotted Cucumber
Beetles usually emerge from overwintering in debris at the edges of
fields in early June. Protect young plants with floating row covers.
Established plants can usually withstand a beetle infestation; it is the
spread of bacterial wilt by their
feeding that is of the most concern. Practice crop rotation and removal
of crop debris to discourage overwintering populations.
Squash Vine Borer- Monitor
plants in late June to early July. Adults are orange moths with black
spots that can be seen flying around in the daytime. They lay eggs at
the base of stems, which the larvae chew through, causing wilting. Larvae can be dug out and killed.
Destroying crop residues will help with next year’s population.
Aphids can be washed off
plants with a hard stream of water. They have several natural predators
that control populations including parasites (aphids appear grey or
bloated), lady beetle larvae and lacewings.
Bacterial wilt (Erwinia tracheiphila) is spread
by cucumber beetles and will quickly kill young plants. Control of
cucumber beetles is critical in preventing spread of this disease.
Angular Leaf Spot, caused by
the bacteria Pseudomonas syringae
pv. lachrymans, can be responsible for decreased yields due to loss
of photosynthesis when leaves become ragged, but does not kill the plant
and does not necessarily affect fruit.
Gummy stem blight (Didymella bryoniae) is common on
greenhouse cucumbers and can be prevented by strict sanitation measures
to remove and destroy all plant residue, as well as measures to reduce
wetness on leaves.
Cucumber mosaic virus causes
leaves to become mottled and distorted and fruit stunted and misshapen.
Use of row cover (to exclude aphids, which can carry the disease) and
controlling weeds (also potential hosts) can be effective in preventing
CMV, as well as selecting varieties with disease resistance and/or
Scab – Avoid wetting foliage
and give plants plenty of space for circulation.
Cucumbers are also subject to
the fungal diseases of powdery mildew and downy mildew that affect all
cucurbit crops, for which the best prevention is the selection of
Insect pollinated. Cucumber varieties need to be isolated
by ¼ mile to ensure that cross pollination doesn't occur. Physical barriers
such as tree lines, buildings or woods may make shorter distances adequate.
Allow the cucumbers to remain on the vine and get swollen and yellow or brown
in color. Harvest and allow them to sit in a dry, cool place for 3-6 weeks
for after-ripening. This helps considerably with the maturing of the seed.
Remove the seeds and add about the same amount of water as you have seeds.
Allow to lightly ferment for 2-3 days in a warm place, stirring daily. Pour
off debris and flat seeds while leaving large and mature seeds to remain at
the bottom of the container. Dry seeds on a cloth or screen. If needed, use a
1/4"or 1/8" screen to help with cleaning. Cucumber seeds can remain
viable for up to 10 years under cool and dry storage conditions.