Vertical Gardening: Growing Cucumbers

Growing cucumbers with vertical gardening techniques helps maximize small spaces.


| January 2014



Jar of Pickles Illustration

There’s nothing like a few jars of your own homemade pickles to brighten up the winter months.

Illustration courtesy Storey Publishing

In a very small footprint, you can take advantage of vertical gardening by planting vegetables that climb, ramble and twine toward the sun. Small, contained spaces also minimize weeding and pest control and maximize your harvest. Vertical Vegetables & Fruit (Storey Publishing, 2011), by Rhonda Massingham Hart, features gardening techniques that make efficient use of the space available, especially in a small yard. This excerpt gives you tips and tricks for growing cucumbers vertically.

You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: Vertical Vegetables & Fruit.

Why do we say “cool as a cucumber” when cucumbers adore warm, sunny summer days? Cool weather puts them in a slump: They will not grow, they will not set fruit, and they often succumb to disease. If you respect their sensitive nature, however, they are not that finicky to grow. Just give them good weather, plenty of water, and a stress-free life, and they will produce more, crispy, green picklers and slicers than you will know what to do with!

Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) are generally divided into two types: picklers and slicers. (Some are touted as “dual-purpose,” meaning they are good either pickled or fresh.) Excellent cultivars, many resistant to disease, are available in both categories. Plus, there are a few oddball, or novelty, varieties grown for their unusual looks as much as for eating quality. As with other vining crops, hybrids tend to grow shorter vines than open-pollinated varieties.

Pickling cukes

Pickling varieties have flavorful, crunchy flesh and thin skin covered with small spines or bumps. They are also known for producing bumper crops of small fruit — from 2 to 6 inches (15 cm) long.

National Pickling (F1 hybrid, 50–55 days, MO) is an old favorite for good reasons. It starts early and produces prolifically throughout the season. Best pickled while fruit is still small and blocky, with tender skin and crisp flesh, it is also popular as a slicer for its mild flavor when grown to full size. Vines are vigorous and disease resistant.





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