Cucumbers, an yearly vine, belong to the cucurbit family and are fairly easy to grow when given a sunny garden location with ample room and loose, well-drained soil amended with organic matter. When properly cared for and kept free of disease, cucumbers create long, slender fruit which vary in length from 3 to 24 inches. It’s ready for harvest in 50 to 70 days from planting, depending on how you want to use them.
Before cucumbers can create fruit, the crops grow both female and male flowers on the exact same plant. The male flowers open first and grow in clusters of three to five years, while the female flowers grow on one stem. When successfully pollinated, the female flowers develop fruit in the flower base and also the male flower drop off the plant. Male flowers outnumber female flowers 10 to 1. You shouldn’t be surprised if a high number of flowers drop because these are the male flowers which have served their purpose.
Honey bees are common pollinators for cucumber flowers, so large populations raise pollination success, while reduced populations can hinder fruit production. For great fruit production, the bees will need to carry pollen from male to female flowers. Poor pollination may also cause misshapen fruit. Unlike what some might think, cucumbers and other cucurbits from the garden cannot cross pollinate, as the female flowers are only fertilized by males of the very same species. Varieties in each species may cross-pollinate, but it does not affect the current year’s fruit, only the seeds.
Failure to Establish Fruit
If cucumber plants fail to flower, it is impossible for them to set fruit. Some common pest conditions that affect flowering include infestation of nematodes. The root knot nematodes feed on plant roots, stunt growth and reduce return. Improper spacing may also cause poor fruit production. When cucumber plants are too close or too far off, it may affect pollination, and plants might produce more foliage and fewer blooms and fruit.
Continuous Fruit Creation
To encourage ongoing fruit production, you want to pick cucumbers when they are still immature. Mature cucumbers are big, yellow and include hard seeds; these are inedible and if you allow the fruit to fully ripen, the plant halts fruit formation. So that the longer you harvest, the more cucumber you may expect to grow in one season. Harvest cucumbers according to usage. Harvest pickling cucumbers when they hit 1 to 6 inches long, slicing cucumbers in 6 to 10 inches long and pepper to get routine dills at 3 to 4 inches long.