Take care of your plants
To keep the soil moist, water 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) per week. Watch for wilting of leaves, making sure to differentiate heat stress wilting from dehydration wilting. Water when you notice the latter and make that your watering schedule to keep your soil on the dryer side of moist. This should battle blight, or fungus/bacteria, that can take hold due to over-watering.
|Wilted – Noon||Recovered – Late afternoon|
If they end up staying limp, there may be something more sinister at work, maybe a mold or fungus. I would cut those leaves off as soon as possible. The same with any developing cucumbers that begin to yellow and wither. They use up energy that could be going towards healthy growth. If you have trouble pruning stems, get yourself precision pruners like Fiskars’ Softouch Micro-Tip Pruning Snip. A good clean cut heals quicker. Even more important, as it gets warmer in the summer, you might find your plants putting out secondary vines from the main vine (where the leaves meet the vine). These will have small leaves to cut down on summer heat retention. You’ll also see a large amount of male and female flowers on these. Only a few will turn into full veggies, cut these off so the plant will put more energy into growing fruits.
Now when it comes time to harvest your seeds, you’ll have left the fruit on the vine long enough for the cucumber to get huge and even yellow, possibly even split open. The seeds will need to mature, and a cucumber used for pickling will have either no seeds, or highly immature seeds. So leave it! I’ve included the best video I could find on the subject. Informative, with a bit of technical detail. You can find it on the Pickle Texture page. It’s on the texture page because the video gives a bit of background on how seeds naturally escape from inside fruit/veg.
There are a number of ways to plant that will prevent pests from destroying your crop. First, keeping your individual cucumber plants physically spaced far away from each other will protect from pests wiping the entire garden out. If spaced close, bugs can easily jump from plant to plant. When one becomes infested, you can either pull it out or treat it. Second, planting companion plants nearby will ward off pests. If you have an aphid infestation, plant nasturtium.
If you’ve come across cucumber beetles in your garden, plant icicle radishes to deter them. If you see wilting in leaves on a mature, well watered plant, you might check flowers and new leaves for these beetles. Wilting is caused by a bacterial infection transferred by the beetle. You can read more about that here.
I’m testing nasturtiums to see if they repel aphids. What other pests have you come across and how did you deal with them?
I want all the gritty details.