Whether you plan to pickle them, snack on them, or add them to salads, cucumbers are rewarding plants to grow in any garden. These prolific producers come in an array of varieties, feature different attributes, and grow on bush or vining plants. But, how do you know when and how to harvest your cucumbers so that you can bring them from farm to table and share with friends? Check out our guide for tips and tricks for how to pick refreshing cucumbers from your garden at just the right time.
Cucumbers are easy to grow and just as easy to harvest. They are high producers, and it is essential to check vines and bushes daily so that you can pick the fast-growing fruits regularly. A keen eye is needed, as most cucumber varieties also match the green hue of their vines, so they can be tricky to spot within the dense foliage.
Harvest cucumbers when they attain at least six to eight inches in length. Keep a watchful eye out for dark green skins and firm fruits. It is best to harvest these beauties on the earlier side to reap the rewards of their sweet flesh and tender seeds. They will grow bigger and can still be eaten when harvested later. However, seeds will be prevalent and pronounced, and the cucumber may have a more bitter taste than their younger counterparts. Cucumbers are not one of those vegetables that ripen when cutting early from the vine.
Plan to pick cucumbers early in the morning when the plant vines are cool and damp with dew. When harvesting cucumbers, use a sharp knife or clippers to separate them from the vine. Twisting the stems can cause tearing of the vines and cause subsequent damage to the plant. Remember that you will likely be harvesting a couple of cucumbers per day, so monitor your crop of cucumbers closely. Leaving your harvest on the vine too long will prematurely mature your plant, and it will slow its production of cucumbers.
At the end of the season, when the threat of frost is approaching, prune off any underdeveloped cucumbers to force the plant to focus the rest of its energy on those closer to harvest. You’ll get more out of the fruits and have a better chance at yielding the last vegetables of the season.
Keep cucumbers cool and fresh by storing them in the refrigerator. If you have an overwhelming bounty, try canning or pickling them or share them with family and friends. No one will be able to resist the overflow of your yield, and you will undoubtedly receive accolades on your green thumb.
With so many varieties of cucumbers to choose from, it can be hard to decide which to grow. Explore and try different types and determine what kind of cucumbers suit your needs and your tastes. Here are a few of our favorite cucumber varieties to get you started as you bring cool, crunchy goodness from farm to table this season.
- ‘Spacemaster’ is a popular variety of cucumbers for containers and small garden spaces. It produces large yields of cucumbers with smooth, dark green and sweet flesh.
- ‘Bush Champion’ is a popular slicing cucumber that grown on a compact, bushy plant and has a long season of production. This variety works well in backyard gardens and in containers.
- ‘Salad Bush’ is a disease-resistant, bush variety of cucumbers that grow great in containers. It produces crisp fruits with smooth and dark green skin.
- ‘Pickle Bush’ is a great pickling variety that produces tasty average-sized fruits that bring on the crunch. You’ll need to harvest this variety of cumber regularly, as it boasts an impressive yield.
Its compact nature makes it suitable for containers and small gardens.
- ‘White Wonder’ cucumbers will definitely add some variety to your harvest. This cultivar produces white cucumbers on compact vines that pack a crunch and a pristine flavor worth bragging about.
- ‘Armenian Cucumbers’ thrive in the heat of summer, particularly in warmer climates. Its striated yellow stripes resemble that of a snake as they grow to a lengthy one-foot long!
- ‘County Fair’ are vigorous producers of almost seedless 3-inch cucumbers. This variety is an early producer in the garden.
- ‘Fanfare’ will bring on the applause this season that has incredible texture and a robust flavor. It grows a bit longer than the average cucumber and boasts slender, 9-inch fruits.
- ‘Gherkins’ are for lovers of small crunchy petite favorites that are vigorous producers and are great for pickling.
- ‘Greensleeves’ is a fast-growing variety of cucumbers. It produces large amounts of deep green-skinned oblong beauties that can grow to an average of 8-inches.