Growing Cucumbers – Confined Space or Freedom
Gardening is such a fun hobby to practice, because not only it encourages you to spend time outside in the sun and fresh air, it also rewards you with continuous, pleasant surprises, while watching your plants grow and produce.
Being outdoors and working with plants, gives me so much pleasure and relaxation. I am not a very dedicated gardener, since I have limited free time to spare, but I like to experiment with different plants and their growing progress.
This year I experimented with growing my cucumbers in different locations in the yard, because I always seem to face new challenges with achieving a successful cucumber crop.
Here you see one of my cucumber plants, growing in a window box, thus in a rather confined space. The plant seems to be growing slowly, and trying to climb up on the fence to support it’s vine. However, the leaves are fairly small, there are only few flowers, and the cucumbers are also quite small in size. I even lowered the box halfway in the ground, to keep it cooler, but it really did not help much.
Growing any plants in pots, boxes, or other containers, requires regular daily watering, and fairly large container, as the sun warms up the soil very quickly, and dries it out, thus starves the plant.
This cucumber plant grows freely in my garden. It also found a supporting fence to climb on, and seems to be much happier, than the one in the box.
Have you noticed how much larger it’s leaves are, and how much more vibrant the whole plant looks? It’s roots have no limit of space, thus grow freely, and spread its vines in all directions. The soil stays cool, being surrounded by other plants in the garden, providing additional shade during a hot day. The plant has many flowers, hence lots of upcoming cucumbers. It already produced several nice size cucumbers.
These cucumbers are planted outside of my garden patch, but still against the fence for support. They have total freedom, as you can see they enjoy the coolness of the soil and the grassy area protecting their tender roots from hot weather. Since I was just experimenting with these, the ground was not properly prepared for gardening. All these plants have is the soil from their original pot. The cucumber plants are doing very nicely, but I am sure once the roots reach the regular soil, the plant will start to slow down is progress considerably.
Notice how healthy the vine and leaves look on these plants? These plants enjoy their total freedom. The cucumbers are even larger than the ones planted in the garden. Now you know where I will plant cucumbers next year. Yes, you guessed it; in freedom and definitely not in a box, or a pot.
I am already preparing a new patch next to my current garden, and will rearrange my perennial plants this fall, and follow a different spring planting plan. I will need to add some natural fertilizer and my usual veggie scraps into my garden, to enrich the soil once again, as the nutrients from the original mushroom soil have depleted considerably.
So, what do I do with the cucumbers I grow?
For easy pickling, all you have to do is to save the jar with the brine from your favorite store bought pickles. Pick small cucumbers, wash them, and place them in a jar with the brine (Claussen are my favorite), keep them refrigerated for few days, and you have delicious pickles. You can also cut your small cucumbers in half, lengthwise, for more flavor and faster pickling. These pickles will be lighter in flavor from the store bought ones, but still very flavorful and easy to make.