Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Vegetables
by National Gardening Association Editors
For a heat-loving plant, the cucumber has all the connotations of coolness attached to it. This vegetable originated in the hot, dry climates of Asia and Africa, where its crisp, white flesh must have seemed refreshing. Sliced cucumbers are still recommended to soothe hot, tired eyelids and for skin irritations. And there's nothing like sliced cucumbers in a summer salad to beat the heat.
Today, there are many cucumber types: picklers, slicers, gherkins, white, and bush cukes, as well as the newer seedless and all-female varieties.
The art of pickling and preserving cucumbers is centuries old. You can pickle or preserve any small cucumber, or eat picklers fresh right off the vine, so go ahead and experiment with different varieties, regardless of how you intend to use them. Also, remember to plant some dill seed in the spring, so you'll be all set for pickling when those first young cucumbers are ready.
Types of Cukes
Picklers - 53 to 60 days. Smallish, often warty, green, used for small sweet pickles or large dills. Can also be eaten fresh.
Slicers - 58 to 65 days. 5- to 8-inch cylindrical cucumbers, used for slicing and serving fresh. Skin can be solid colored or white spined (striped).
Cool Cucumber Varieties
Most varieties listed below have 4- to 5-feet long vines unless noted. The days to maturity () are from seeding in the ground until first harvest.
'Aria' (52) Slicer; A hybrid, parthenocarpic type with good disease resistance and thin skin.
'Bush Pickle' (50) Pickling; 4-inch-long cukes mature simultaneously on 2- to 3-foot diameter plants.
County Fair' (50) Pickling; This hybrid is best known for its disease resistance, especially to bacterial wilt.
'Fanfare' (63) Slicing; An All-American Selections (AAS) winning semi-bush hybrid with lots of disease resistance; produces 8-inch long fruits on 4-foot vines.
'Lemon' (64) Pickling; This heirloom produces crisp, mild-flavored, yellow lemon-shaped fruits.
'Marketmore 86' (68) Slicing; A widely-adapted variety with good disease resistance and productivity.
'Salad Bush' (57) Slicing; This AAS winner needs only 2 square feet to produce 8-inch long fruits.
'Suyo Long' (61) Slicing; An unusual, burpless Oriental type that produces 15-inch-long fruits.
'Sweet Success' (54) Slicing; AAS-winning parthenocarpic cuke with tender skin and good disease resistance.
'Wisconsin SMR-18' (56) Pickling; A highly productive and disease-resistant variety.