An article by Travis Key from Lazy Dog Farm
Our last blog explained the different flowering habits and pollination requirements for three different types of cucumbers. These include monoeciou, gynoecious, and parthenocarpic cucumbers. In that blog we explained which ones need pollination, which ones are the most productive, and which ones are great for gardens with limited space.
In this blog I wanted to continue the cucumber discussion and talk about all the different shapes, textures, and flavors of cucumbers that you can grow. Cucumbers come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They’re all delicious, but you might want to choose a different variety for pickling or just slicing them fresh for a salad.
Pickling cucumbers, sometimes called “Kirby” cucumbers, are smaller, stocky cucumbers that are great for preserving through fermentation or traditional pickling methods. These cucumbers don’t get very long, but they can get wide if you leave them on the vine too long. They have a bumpy exterior unlike some of the smooth-skinned cucumbers we’ll discuss below.
Pickling cucumbers are best harvested around 4-5” long, but ideal size will vary depending on your desired use. If you’re wanting smaller whole pickles, you may want to selectively harvest them at 3-4” long. If you’re wanting to make larger spears or big ballpark pickles, you may want to let them grow larger.
These are my personal favorite because there’s so much you can do with them. They can be enjoyed fresh like a slicing cucumber but can also be fermented or just soaked overnight in balsamic vinegar for a delicious cucumber salad. These also preserve well through water bath canning, allowing you to have delicious pickles year-round!
Also called “garden cucumbers,” traditional slicing cucumbers have a smoother skin and minimal spines compared to pickling cucumbers. These cucumbers can get quite large if left on the vine but are usually best harvested around 7-8” long. Be sure you have a strong trellis system when growing these. The plants can quickly get loaded with heavy cucumbers and you need a sturdy trellis to support them.
As the name suggests, these cucumbers are great for slicing fresh and eating as a snack or on your favorite salad. They can also be pickled, but the larger size doesn’t always work well for smaller pickling jars. If you do want to pickle these, try picking them small so the slices won’t be as large.
Slicing cucumbers tend to have larger seeds, which is undesirable to some. If the larger seeds bother you, try harvesting them smaller before the seeds get too large. These larger slicing cucumbers can also become bitter if the plants are stressed during the warmer months. Be sure to have an adequate irrigation system and feed them AgroThrive Fruit & Flower every couple of weeks to keep the plants nice and healthy.
Armenian cucumbers, also known as snake melons or yard-long cucumbers, are a type of cucumber that is native to the Armenian region of the Middle East. They are long, slender and have a slightly curved shape, with a pale green skin that is thin and tender.
Unlike typical cucumbers, Armenian cucumbers have a crunchy texture and a slightly sweet flavor, with a hint of citrus. They are often used in salads, pickling, or as a fresh snack. Armenian cucumbers are also known for their high-water content and low calorie count, making them a popular choice for those looking for a healthy snack or addition to their diet.
English cucumbers, also known as “burpless” or seedless cucumbers, are a type of cucumber that is typically longer and thinner than traditional cucumbers. In the grocery store you’ll often find them wrapped in plastic or sold in sealed containers to protect their thin, tender skin from damage. They are known for their mild, sweet flavor and crisp texture.
English cucumbers are seedless or contain very small, soft seeds, making them a popular choice for salads, sandwiches, and as a fresh snack. They are commonly grown in greenhouses or hydroponic systems, which allows for year-round cultivation and ensures that the cucumbers are protected from pests and environmental factors that can damage the crop. But they can also be grown in your backyard garden and enjoyed by the whole family!
Gherkin cucumbers are a small variety of cucumber that is typically used for pickling. They are usually harvested when they are just an inch or so in length and have a distinctive, bumpy exterior with firm, crunchy flesh. They are known for their tart, sour flavor, which makes them ideal for use in pickling recipes. They are often pickled in vinegar, salt, and spices, and can be found in a variety of dishes, including sandwiches, salads, and relishes.
Gherkin cucumbers are native to India but are now grown and cultivated in many parts of the world. They are typically harvested by hand and require careful handling to avoid bruising or damage. Gherkin cucumbers are also low in calories and high in fiber, making them a healthy addition to any diet.
Lemon cucumbers are round, yellow, and about the size of a lemon. They have a thin, delicate skin and a mild, sweet flavor that is like traditional cucumbers, but with a slightly tangy, citrus-like taste. They are also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and potassium.
Lemon cucumbers are generally harvested when they are small and can be eaten raw or cooked. They are a popular choice for salads, sandwiches, and as a fresh snack. Lemon cucumbers are also used in a variety of recipes, including soups, stews, and sauces. Lemon cucumbers are a healthy food, as they are low in calories and high in water content, which can help to keep you hydrated.
Thousands of gardeners have been tuning in to The Lazy Dog Farm YouTube channel where Travis covers a variety topics ranging from how to successfully start seedlings to how to make a flavorful hotsauce that packs a punch. Accompanied by his wife Brooklyn and their two boys, the gardens on their 2 acre homestead in southwest Georgia are always filled with a wide variety of vegetables that are enjoyed fresh or preserved for later.