The bush cucumber is an annual herbaceous plant that can be climbing or crawling, depending on the staking you do or not. As a good cucurbitaceous plant, the bush cucumber imposes its presence in the garden, and spreads with long stems of several meters, branched, angular, equipped with tendrils and thick hairs.
The leaves have 3 to 5 dark green lobes with a greyish underside, they are petiolated and opposite to the tendrils.
The requirements of the bush cucumber
The culture of the bush cucumber can be sometimes delicate.
bush cucumbers like rich, moist and cool soil, as well as heat. At planting, add mature compost and, if temperatures remain cool in late spring, do not hesitate to protect the plants with a tunnel or a forcing veil.
During the summer, water regularly (with tempered water) and install a mulch.
Tip: when watering, avoid water on the leaves. This can encourage the development of certain diseases such as mildew or powdery mildew.
Sowing and transplanting bush cucumbers
bush cucumbers are sown under cover in March-April, about 7 weeks before transplanting (sowing in the open ground does not start before mid-May).
Sow in clusters of 3 or 4 seeds, in cups or under a frame, or even indoors (germination temperature: over 60°F). Keep only one plant per poquet after the plants have emerged. In late May or June, transplant them, spacing them 22 inches apart in rows about 3 ft apart.
Tip: To reduce the footprint of bush cucumber plants, climb them on a wire fence.
Do I need to prune bush cucumbers?
Pruning bush cucumber plants helps to branch the stems and speed up fruit production. It is not, however, mandatory to obtain fruit.
First, the plants are topped above the second true leaf, to produce secondary branches. Then, a second pruning on the new stems can be done, above the third leaf. Finally, a last cut at one leaf above each fruit allows to make them grow bigger.
How to sow and plant bush cucumbers?
Whether the seedlings are sown under a frame or in the ground, you will put 3 or 4 seeds per bucket or per hole, sown at 2 centimeters deep. Cover with a little fine soil and water. The emergence is done in approximately one week.
When the seeds have germinated, keep only the most vigorous plant per bucket or poquet.
Planting should be done in well loosened soil, without clods, stones or weeds, pouring a handful of well decomposed compost at the bottom of each planting hole.
If you are planting in rows of bush cucumbers, keep one meter between each row. Mulch the soil to keep it cool and to prevent the fruit from getting dirty, but you can also stake or trellis the plants.
Once your plants are in the ground, be extremely vigilant against slugs and snails that nibble on your bush cucumber plants.
In your vegetable garden plan, plan to plant bush cucumbers near lettuce, garlic, onion, tomatoes, spinach, celery, which will favor production but keep them away from other cucurbits with which the association is harmful.
bush cucumbers are not very exhausting plants for the soil, but plan a crop rotation of 3 or 4 years before growing them again in the same place.
The first harvest begins 3 to 4 months after planting. And to put all your chances on your side to succeed in this bush cucumber production, check your lunar calendar to sow on a rising moon and plant preferably on a falling moon, always a “fruit” day.
Tips for maintaining and growing bush cucumbers in the vegetable garden
After planting, mulch the soil to keep it cool. You can let the stems run on the ground: in this case, mulching will avoid picking bush cucumbers with soil, but you can also trellis the plants by making them climb on a trellis, a fence or simple wires stretched vertically.
Watering should be regular, not too much or too little, otherwise your fruit will be bitter. Weed, hoe and weed.
Cucumber plants are pruned: pinch the head above the second leaf so that two stems are formed, then pinch the latter at the fourth leaf and the following ones, one leaf above each fruit.
Harvesting, conservation and use of bush cucumbers
bush cucumbers are harvested between 3 and 4 months after sowing, i.e. July to September depending on the sowing date, and should be picked relatively young to avoid the seeds being too big: they are also crunchier and juicier at this stage.
Don’t wait to enjoy your bush cucumber because once harvested, it will wither and soften quite quickly. It is usually used in salads, in Greek tzatzíki, or sometimes cooked in soup, but bush cucumber slices are also known to moisturize the skin!
Diseases, pests and parasites of bush cucumbers
The green spots of anthracnose of bush cucumbers are easily recognized, but aphids and powdery mildew are also something to watch out for.