Author: Danijela Despotovic
Can you even imagine a perfect summer meal without a salad, whose indispensable ingredient is cucumber? Cucumber is the definition of a summer vegetable, as more than 90% of it is made of water, it is extremely refreshing and low in calories, so you can indulge in lots of it without remorse. Cucumber contains a lot of calcium, phosphorus, sodium, iron, manganese, iodine, and vitamins C and B1.
Cucumber is an annual plant and, just like tomatoes, it likes warm weather and high temperatures, so you should be careful when picking the time of the year for transplanting it outdoors. It is best to do so between late April and mid-May. Cucumber has a shallow root system that extends right below the soil surface, so proper and timely watering plays a very important role in growing this plant. One way to ensure optimal humidity is mulching – using straw or hay so as to maintain soil moisture, prevent temperature fluctuations and minimize your weed growth.
Cucumber is a crop that is grown vertically, i.e. on a trelliis, as this ensures maximum sunlight, the ventilation makes it less susceptible to diseases, and yet another major perk is that you get to maximize space and host many seedlings. When planting, make sure that the seedlings are as close to the grid as possible so that they can be easily routed through the grid openings.
Given cucumber’s high water content, the watering regime plays a major role in how the fruit will develop and taste. The characteristic bitterness in cucumber fruit may occur for several reasons. One of them is the shock that the plant undergoes when heated soil is irrigated with cold water. Also, the reason may be a lack of water coupled with high temperatures, but also low temperatures and too much humidity.
The most common fungal disease that occurs in cucumber is powdery mildew (Erysiphe cichoracearu L.). This disease has a characteristic appearance – there is a white, ashy coating on the front and back of the leaf. The leaves often look like they are sprinkled with flour and you can easily wipe off the coating with your fingers. Powdery mildew occurs both outdoors and in polytunnels and spreads when there is high humidity and higher air temperatures. The assimilation surface of the leaves shrinks, which reduces the yield and quality. Infected leaves turn yellow, dry out and decay.
In order to prevent cucumber powdery mildew as soon as possible, one should react as soon as the first symptoms of the disease appear. One of the preventive measures would be to sow more resistant varieties, whereas preventive organic fungicide sprays are recommended for sensitive varieties. VitiSan is one of such products.
VitiSan is a plant protection product based on potassium bicarbonate, which sets up a mechanical barrier for newly germinating spores of powdery mildew. Slower mycelial formation causes powdery mildew germs to dry up.
In cooperation with the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, La Organica filmed a series of short instructional videos on how to grow a garden on your terrace or in your yard, and the episode on growing and tending to cucumbers can be found here: