My keys to successful cucumbers (and other produce)

After two failed attempts at growing cucumbers, year three has definitely been a charm.  A lot of people have been complementing me on my "green thumb," and asking what I did this year that I didn't do in the past. There are a few key things that I did differently this year that I think led to my success, and I would like to share them now.  After all, there's no reason why you should waste two years of your gardening life learning what I've already learned.

 'Cuz cukes like this don't grow themselves!

Key #1 - Poop 
You already know this one from previous gardening posts, but manure and compost actually help the things in your grow to grow.  It's expensive and it's stinky but it's also a miracle.  Think about it - something else's bodily WASTE is helping to create food for today.  How crazy is that???

Key #2 - Thinning
Cucumbers vine like crazy, and if you don't give them enough space, they'll start to strangle each other out.  I am a bleeding heart, and so last year I didn't have the emotional strength to kill perfectly good cucumber seedlings.  But killing some plants is what makes other plants successful. Thinning is hard but it is absolutely necessary.  If it makes you feel better, dig up the seedlings and plant them in another location.  But don't leave them all to grow in their initial spot - they'll just start fighting for space and kill each other.

Key #3 -Fences
Did you know that cucumbers like to climb fences?  Most people, when they think of cuke plants, think of spreading plants that crawl along the ground.  This is a great way to plant cucumbers, but ground spreaders take up a TON of room.  If you don't have that much room, try planting your cukes near your graden fence and add additional trellises to allow them to climb onto.

This saves  you a TON of room in your garden and creates a lot of great shade for your cukes to grow in.  Cucumber plants need a lot of water and a lot of sunlight, but the fruits themselves actually grow in the shade of the leaves (which absorb the sunlight.) The trellis method of growing cucumbers creates a cute little alcove for them to grow in.  Just watch out to make sure that they don't grow in your yard! (Your husband will get mad and run them over with the lawnmower.)

Key #4 - Water
As I mentioned earlier, cucumbers need a lot of sun and a lot of water.  The key to our watering success has been a magical computer machine that is hooked up to our outdoor faucet and turns on each and every morning, providing our garden with 20 solid minutes of liquid fuel.  MUCH easier than hiking up that mountain every single day to water our garden.  In the past, the garden was lucky if it was watered twice a week.

And really, that's all there is to it.  I've harvested about 15 cucumbers so far this summer, and I'll probably get between 5 and 8 more.  I've been giving them away like crazy, and I even have a story about that that I'll save for a future post!


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