For some of us, planting season is already here! For others, it is just a matter of weeks before the threat of frost has melted away, allowing seedlings to thrive outdoors. But, no matter where in the country you are, spring fever is surely taking hold. At Pearl and Johnny we love planting a garden as diverse as the types of produce we pickle. Here in the Ozarks we often get a good harvest of jalapenos, bell peppers, zucchini, and not the least of these, cucumbers!
Though we could go on and on about all the great produce we love to pickle (and we did in this latest blog), we will just focus on the king of the pickled vegetables: cucumbers! These crisp and gently flavored vegetables are still our favorite thing to pickle. They grow well in most climate in the US. So, follow along as we give you some quick tips on how to garden cucumbers to make the ultimate pickles!
What variety should I buy?
Any cucumber can be pickled; and in our experience, they are all pretty tasty! If you want to grow cucumbers specifically for pickling though, go for a smaller thicker skinned variety. Many of these varieties have the word pickle right in their name like The Boston Pickling Cucumber or The National Pickling Cucumber.
When should I plant cucumbers?
The ideal time to plant cucumbers actually has little to do with the calendar date and everything to do with temperature. First, you want to wait to plant your cucumbers until there is a good chance temperatures will not dip below freezing at night (which can cause frost). This differs drastically depending on where you live. Check out this map from The National Centers for Environmental Information to see when your area is usually clear of frost.
The other number to consider is the daily average temperatures. Cucumbers will do best if planted after the average highs are in the mid 70s. Once frosts are done with for the year, and it is looking like the average weather forecast is above 70 degrees, you should be good to get planting!
Where should I plant my cucumbers?
Cucumbers grow on a sprawling vine and require lots of space. The best way to ensure they have enough is to use a trellis. Make sure to plant them directly beneath the trellis so that they are able to crawl up it. If you do not use a trellis, plant the cucumber seedlings in a small mound of dirt at least 3 feet apart. This will ensure they have enough room to sprawl out which can prevent common diseases.
How and when should I water my cucumbers?
Water your cucumbers at the root, not on their leaves. The biggest reason for this is again preventing disease. It will also ensure that the roots get soaked. Make sure to water in the morning. This will make sure your cucumbers have enough moisture to bare the sun throughout the day and also will prevent them from staying soaked over night which can cause issues as well.
How do I harvest my cucumbers?
Though cucumbers can usually be harvested when they are 7-8 inches long, when harvesting for pickles, it is best to harvest them at about 4 inches long. Be sure to use a sharp knife or garden shears to harvest ripe cucumbers. Twisting or pinching the fruit off of the vine can cause unnecessary stress.
What do I do with all these cucumbers?
We are glad you asked! Now that you know how to garden cucumbers, it is time to learn all the amazing ways you can use them. Cucumbers will last in the fridge for about a week, but doing a quick pickle can help them last a couple extra weeks. Just follow the directions on the back of our 10-Minute Pickle Kits! You can also try one of our favorite recipes like our Marinated Cucumber Salad, Dill Pickle Dip, or Homemade Relish.
Even with all these creative ideas you may still be left with more cucumber than your family can eat. The good news is that they make the perfect gift for your family, friends, and neighbors. Gift them already pickled or fresh alongside a Pearl and Johnny 10-Minute Pickle Kit. You could also whip up Pearl and Johnny Organic Dip Mixes and serve them with all your freshly picked vegetables. Can you say garden party !?