Fruit and vegetables

Cucumber - Cucumis sativus

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Growing cucumbers

The cucumber, cucumis sativus, is an annual plant, belonging to the genus of cucurbits, climbing, native to Asia; produces fickle stems, which tend to develop rapidly, up to 120-150 cm in length; the leaves are broad, thin, bright green; the elongated fruits are dark green, fleshy, covered with small white growths, which quickly detach at the time of harvest. Cucumbers have been cultivated for millennia by man, for this reason there are hundreds of varieties of cucumbers, diversified according to the size of the fruits and the color of the peel: there are giant cucumbers, for salads, which can reach 30-40 cm in length , and also very minute cucumbers, which do not exceed 6 centimeters in length, to be used to produce pickles; the practice of sowing Cucumis sativus is frequent, and later on picking the largest fruits to prepare salads or other courses, and the small immature fruits to prepare pickles, in order to use the fruits in different ways; this method is especially useful for those varieties that produce large quantities of cucumbers, which could hardly be consumed raw in a short period of time, given that, in addition to pickled preservation, it is not possible to store cucumbers for a long time with another method, such as freezing.


Growing cucumbers

Cucumis sativus is a predominantly summer vegetable. It is eaten primarily raw to give freshness to salads, sandwiches, sandwiches and as an accompaniment to other crudités.

It is very simple to grow and will certainly give great satisfaction both to the novice farmer and to the garden for many years.

Many varieties are available and we will certainly find the one that best suits our taste and space needs. It is also possible to try to grow it in pots, especially if we choose small ones.

Cucumbers are among the easiest to grow and most satisfying vegetables, in about three months we move from seed to ripe cucumber, ready to be eaten; the seedlings are planted, which already have at least two true leaves.

The cucumber seedlings they are obtained from seed, to be placed in a protected seedbed at the end of winter, so as to have the young plants already ready to be planted more or less in April; in the nursery it is possible to find small ready-made cucumber plants, which allows us to have plants of different varieties without having to buy the seeds, which is very useful in a small family garden, where in general the cucumber plants provide sufficient fruit also for the most gluttonous consumer of cucumbers, enough even to make it a gift to neighbors.

Before placing the small plants, you choose a sunny plot, and work it, enriching the soil with manure and bone meal, a precious source of phosphorus, of which cucumbers are a large consumer.

It is recommended to use, for cucumbers, a very well drained soil, as these plants are often subject to basal or neck rot, strongly favored by the presence of water stagnation; if the soil of our garden should be excessively compact or heavy, add a little sand to the plot, which will lighten the substrate, allowing a greater drain of the water.

Next to each seedling, we also place a brace, to allow it to climb on it, without finding obstacles; It is also possible to grow cucumbers by leaving them crawling, but this practice uses much more space in the vegetable garden, and in addition to this, the fruits that rest on the ground tend to turn yellow in the part in contact with the substrate, as they do not receive light.

Immediately after placing the small plants, at a distance of about 40-50 cm between them and between the rows, we water abundantly; watering will be provided whenever the soil is dry, avoiding excess; in summer we will probably have to water every day, but in spring a watering every 2-3 days is sufficient, reducing the interventions in case of rain.

Cucumber plants develop quickly, but produce flowers and fruits on the lateral branches; to increase the harvest, as soon as the stem reaches 5-7 internodes, the apex of the main stem is removed (technically, the top is planted), in order to favor a greater production of lateral branches, and a consequent greater fruiting .

After bearing fruit for weeks, cucumber plants naturally tend to perish, until completely dried out, we can then uproot them and prepare the soil for further crops.

Generally the plot of cucumbers, in the family garden, is then used to grow the typical winter vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, fennel; It is good to avoid, even the following year, to grow cucumbers, or other cucurbits, such as pumpkins, courgettes, melons, watermelons in the same plot.

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