How do I know when a plant (cucumber) is done?

julia42(9a)June 2, 2011

This is my first year gardening and I'm still figuring a lot of things out. I have two Marketmore cucumber vines that have been producing like crazy this last month. I think I've gotten about twenty cucumbers from each vine. It's starting to get hot (it's supposed to hit 99 today) so they wilt a lot and I'm noticing a ton of aphids on the plants, but they're still producing a cucumber or two every few days. My temptation is to leave them in as long as they're still producing, but I wonder if it would be better for the overall health of my garden area to remove them. Get rid of all those aphids (too many to get rid of any other way, really) and let the soil rest until fall plantings...

What do you experienced veggie gardeners recommend?

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adrock430(6A)

Not that I'm too experienced, but I like to split up the planting, with one set at the normal time, and one a month later.

Either that, or you can start indoors a month ahead, and plant the seedlings and seeds at the same time. I've noticed that, like Zucchini's, production falls off a cliff, although they still produce some

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 2:10PM
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julia42(9a)

I actually do have some more cucumber plants (which I planted later) that are starting to produce now. It's not so much that I'm afraid I'll be all out of harvest opportunities for the summer. It's just that every time I step outside thinking maybe I should cut them down, I look through the vines and find one or two more cucumbers that will be ready if I just wait, say, three more days. So then, three days later I harvest that one, but I find another that'll be ready if I just wait three more days... etc...

Maybe I'll cut them down in three more days...

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 2:44PM
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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

Are you feeding and watering them alot. Cucumbers are like teenage boys--you can't feed them too much--well maybe not really but organics are mild.

Unless the plants are yellow or white or brittle instead of nice and green, I wouldn't pull them. If you do pull them, add compost and fertilizer to the soil and replant them. It's a long time cool weather down there and they should keep producing until they freeze.

I keep eating fresh cucumbers until I can't get anymore since the garden ones are so nice.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 9:35PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

If you have a second crop of cucs coming on, I would absolutely pull out the first and throw them into the garbage, not the compost. This is quite normal for cucumbers. When you go from picking six a day to one every two or three days, that's a good sign that the plant is pooped. You have plenty of time to plant another crop of something else (or maybe even two crops before frost).

You could plant some squash in the space, or some peppers, okra, cowpeas (wonderful!), or butterbeans. All of these will do great in our hottest summer weather. Just as a note, last year I sowed pole beans in early August and they produced for weeks before first frost around Thanksgiving. Honestly, those beans tasted better than the early crop. With our long season, there's no reason not to keep your garden producing twelve months a year if you want to (or close to it). By the way, this technique has a name: succession cropping

Just as a note, I always pull all the plants up. I compost them if they are not diseased or full of insects. Otherwise, I send them to the dump. Then I add fresh compost or a couple bags of composted manure, and a dose of organic nitrogen like blood meal. Then plant. You must be careful to water daily until the plants germinate because the soil dries out really fast in our heat. But, the heat also makes the seeds come up super fast.

Try it! You'll like it!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 9:42PM
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julia42(9a)

Thanks! Maybe I will go ahead and pull them and plant some pole beans. I have a lot of okra coming along in other parts of the garden, and really more peppers than I can handle (I overplanted for our small pepper needs...).

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 10:55PM
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pennypond USDA 10 Sunset 21 CA

Great suggestions! I might add that if your summer gets as hot as ours in Los Angeles, yard beans might be the best on the trellis. Red Noodle performs great in the heat, and is very delicious. It retains its beautiful color after cooking.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 7:44PM
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jolj(7b/8a)

Thanks, Shebear, you have a way with words.
"like teenage boys"
They climb on everything & eat & drink all the time.
But when are aimed at a cause, can work non stop & out produce any other.
AMEN!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 12:31AM
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julia42(9a)

I have three that are seven and under. They climb on everything and eat and drink all the time already. Maybe the analogy should just be "like boys"! Or maybe I need to prepare myself for an awful lot to handle in about six years... Or maybe both. :)

By the way, my cucumbers do get well watered and fed. I think those first two plants may be done though. Now I need to figure out how to save all the assasin bugs that are eating the aphids as I cut them down. I don't want those guys going in the trash!

Thanks for the yard bean suggestion. I had actually just been looking at red noodle, thinking it looked fun...

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 2:54PM
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julia42(9a)

So I cut my two cucumber plants down this morning and discovered that they were still producing - all the nice new baby cucumbers were up about 12 feet in the willow tree branches where I couldn't see them. Another had a nice fat cucumber hiding on the other side of the privacy fence. Oh well. Maybe they could have gone for another couple of weeks.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 12:14PM
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