Saturday, May 1, 2021

Cucumbers - Hoping That This Year is Better Than Last


I sowed 3 varieties of cucumbers this week and, together with a few squash varieties that are yet to be sown, I am totally psyched for a great cucurbit year.

Garden Sweet (pickling) & Chelsea Prize (slicer) are two long-time favourites
while the Tasty Treat Slicer is a new-to-me variety

Cucumbers are one thing that I've always had pretty good success with.  While there may be some hiccups every once in a while, overall the harvests have been good to great.  That was until the disaster that was 2020, where I had the absolute worst cucumber harvest ever.  How bad is bad?  How about one cucumber.  Yup - short of zero harvest, you can't get much worse than that.

And the one cucumber I did get - well, it wasn't exactly a looker:

Cucumber #1 - Not pretty but still delicious

There was, at one point, the possibility of harvesting a second cucumber but that hope was quickly dashed when it was eaten by something other than me - likely the squad of ravenous rabbits that inhabited my garden all season and snuck into the veg area on more than one occasion.

Cucumber #2....or what was left of it

So what happened to the dozens of cucumbers that normally grace the trellis each summer?  Two words:  Cucumber beetles.

They were everywhere...

This was the first time that I had ever seen them in person, much less in the garden, and they went to town.  It was party central on the vines & flowers.

The cucumber & melon bed
just before the beetle invasion took it's toll

Doing a bit of research on cucumber beetles in Ontario, it seems that they settle in and do the most damage during the "first wave" which runs from mid-June to early July.  This being the case I'm going to try control through exclusion.  I'll cover the plants until mid-July & hopefully this will do the trick.

The one issue I can see running into is trellising.  If I let the plants sprawl until July, I'm not sure how easy it's going to be to get them onto a trellis at that point without damaging the vines.  Just in case this does turn out to be an issue, I'll be sowing some additional seeds directly into the bed in early July.

The melon and cucumber bed a month later - the end is near

One thing that I won't be doing is growing melons on the same trellis, which I did last year.  Perhaps all that deliciousness, side by side, was what enticed the cucumber beetles to hang out in the first place.  Since I've never had an issue with them before, I'm really hoping that last year was an isolated incident and I'll be able to go back to growing cucumbers "normally" in the future.

I also have an update on the Blue Oat grass that I trimmed back this spring before realizing it wasn't necessary.  Much to my relief, it's growing back quickly & quite nicely too.

A haircut by mistake...

or maybe not....it's well on it's way & lookin' good!

So in future, I'll comb it with my fingers to remove most of the brown blades, but if it really needs a refresh, bringing out the clippers is not a bad idea.  Now I know 😊 #alwayslearning 

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

5 comments:

  1. I've never grown cucumbers. I did think about it last year when I decided to reintroduce some vegetables into what had become a floral cutting garden but then an acquaintance told me how her plants were decimated by what I assume must be the very same beetle you've described. I decided to stick with tomatoes and peppers at that point (and rats got most of those!) I hope your plan works Margaret!

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  2. Good luck with the cucumbers, I've never come across cucumber beetles. Our problem at the moment is lack of warmth.

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  3. I'm so sorry about your cucumbers, I hope they do better this year

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  4. Fingers crossed for a better year. There's so many pests out there to thwart us.

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  5. Those dastardly cucumber beetles! Hanging is too good for them. Or should I say, squishing is too good for them. I certainly wish you good luck with this year's crop - nothing like a good fresh cuke - unless it's a garlic-dill pickle.

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