Cucumbers smell and taste of chemicals...

GardainJuly 11, 2011

Hello all!! Im glad to have found this very knowledgeable website for gardeners like myself! Didnt really need help till I have come to this problem with my cucumbers as their is no information I can find on the web about it.

I have a Burpee bush burpless cucumber plant in a 12 gallon container on my sunny deck. It is now producing like crazy. When I picked my first cucumber from it about week ago, it had a small but notciable chemical taste. Tonight, my wife came to me after cleaning and peeling another one and asked me if it smelled funny. I said why yes it does! She then cut me a piece to try and sure enough! It tasted/smelled like chemicals even more than the first!! YUCK! We had to throw it away. I hated doing that as the cucumber is my favorite vegie from the garden. I hope the others wont taste/smell that way.

What could cause this? I used potting soil when I planted. I have used Natria 3 way insectecide by Bayer one time. When that didnt work on the pests I sprayed Sven on the plants once. About 3 weeks inbetween spraying. I also use Miracle Grow on them as well every 7 or so days. Any help would be appreciated as I have never ran into this problem!

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laceyvail(6A, WV)

You used two powerful insecticides, one of which--the Bayer--may not even be approved for edible plants, on one small plant and then chemical fertilizer!! Of course it smells like chemicals, and it is most certainly not fit to eat. Pull the plant and put it in the trash--not the compost.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 6:33AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Let's not jump the gun, laceyvail. Hold your horses.

Natria is the newer line of products produces by Bayer for organic gardeners. I don't know which Gardain used on his veggies, but all are labeled FOR that use up to the day of harvest.

Now, many of us know that Sevin is a very dangerous chemical and would never use it ourselves. This is not, however, an organic gardening forum. Sevin has been used by gardeners for generations. I've not read nor heard of anyone complaining about a chemical smell/taste from its use.

Gardain, which of the Natria products did you use, and how long ago did you apply it? Maybe if you let us know what the active ingredients for this particular product are, it might shed some light on your situation. And was your Sevin product already mixed and ready to spray or did you have to prepare it? How long ago was this applied?

And, gardain, do you own any other Bayer products and could you have used one of those in error? I ask because Bayer does make a systemic pesticide called 3 way. I don't 'think' that any of the Natria products are labeled in such a way.

Hopefully, with some further information from you, we can get to the bottom of the mystery without you putting your cuke plant in the trash! Then, I'd like the opportunity to help you find better and safer ways to manage pests without that ol' nasty Sevin. Fair enough?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 12:58PM
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JessicaARZ8(Arkansas 8A)

I'm having issues with bitter cukes due to the heat (i hope!) this year. The "bitter" smell I'm getting is not due to any chemicals, as the plants haven't been treated, but I can see where the flavor could be reminscent of some chemicals. Maybe it's a bitter cuke problem? Just throwing it in the suggestion box!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 1:04PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

That is the first thing I thought of - bitterness - which is a watering problem primarily. Cukes are 80-90% water normally so inconsistent moisture levels in the soil and especially too dry conditions quickly makes the fruit bitter and also makes it far more likely to develop other 'off' flavors.

This is not to say that the above points about pesticide use aren't valid too. You don't indicate why you used those products - what severe pest infestation you had - but it sure should be avoided whenever possible.


    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 1:17PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

lacyvail is probably thinking of a chemical lawn control also called Natria 3 way which is not suggested for vegetable gardens. Bayer doesn't make a product called "3 way" specifically. I think it was just a mix up of terms.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 2:23PM
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Gardain...please look at the label on your Bayer product and tell us exactly what the product you used is named. Natria products are part of the Bayer Advanced Line but all Bayer Advanced Products are not Natria. Natria is produced for those people who want soft, more organic control of pests and you'll be likely to encounter pyrethroids.

However, Bayer Advanced products advertise they are kinder to the environment because they use lower doses and may use systemics, and that certainly does not mean all of them are either organically approved or necessarily safe for food crops unless they specifically state they are. The three-in-one product in the Bayer Advanced line specifically states it is not for use on edible plants. So if this is what you sprayed.......there's your answer.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 3:16PM
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I used Natria-Insect, disease, and mite control. It is safe for use up to harvest. Only Bayer product I have. It is a Sulfur and Pyrethrins based product. I was having problems with aphids, spider mites, worms and brown spotting.. I applied the product about a month ago, 2 times about a week apart. I saw little reduction of insects so I stepped it up a notch and used premixed spray Sevin about a week and a half ago with one application. Times might vary a little..not much. I'm by far a tree hugger, but I wanted to stay away from the harsh chems like Sevin, but when I saw no progress with Natria, I went ahead and used it. I picked some cukes lastnight and they were alot better tasting...maybe the miracle grow? I use the powder and put it in a watering can...

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 12:55PM
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I agree with the other posters your problem may be with simple cultural techniques like watering. If you have followed the labels on any pesticide you've used.....then you have not impacted the general safety of your crop with them.

I have a differing opinion about sevin. In the rare occasion when I must use a is the only 'hard' insecticide' I use in my otherwise totally organic vegetable beds, because of how rapidly it breaks down and some of the newer supposedly safer products used to replace it may or may not be safer or kinder until they've been around long enough to see any unexpected sequelae. I remember quite well when imidicloprid was introduced and the claims implied that it did not translocate to blossoms in quantities high enough to impact bees or beneficials. It has since come under scrutiny.

All pesticides, even soft ones, can have impact on unintended targets.

Glad to hear you seem to be getting a handle on this.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 1:22PM
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Dan Staley

I went ahead and used it. I picked some cukes lastnight and they were alot better tasting...maybe the miracle grow? I use the powder and put it in a watering can...

Maybe. Maybe more consistent watering.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 1:29PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Gardain, thanks for the further information about your Nutria product.

I think that I can assure you, too, that the MiracleGro is not to blame for the problem you've experienced.

Let's just blame it on the heat or watering issues, shall we? Be sure to water thoroughly (drench) when needed. Little sips can be a problem. Also, some cukes have a genetic predisposition to bitterness than others. Heat and uneven watering brings this out.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 1:33PM
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I would also lay off the Miracle grow. You don't need that much. Make sure there are good drainage holes in your pot and water a lot to flush out the excess.

If cukes are bitter due to lack of water, it is usually on the end where the stem attaches. You may be able to cut off the bitter part and still use the other end of the cuke.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 1:52PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

If you want cukes with all of those chemicals on them, why not just buy them at the grocery store? At least you can reasonably assume the chems were applied professionally.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 3:26PM
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Mhmm...well, when not in season I do by those waxed over old cukes...if u wash the fresh ones from ur garden I said, I'm not a tree hugger..not that I don't care but I don't think that a little bit of chems sprayed on the leaves is going to hurt. I will try more water and see if that will do...thanks to most of u for the info!! Very much appreciated!!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 4:52PM
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Dan Staley

Along rhizo's lines, the plant's metabolism would have broken down the chemical constituents, and thus any compounds would not be present to cause a fertilizer or pesticide smell.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 5:14PM
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Perhaps the case as far as a plant breaking odors down, but odors aren't the only issue with chemicals. Safety is the primary issue. Plants can uptake systemic pesticides intact. Not the case with things like heavy metals a plant can uptake and incorporate into the tissues intact. Not even the case with some micronutrients like molybdenum where they can bioaccmulate in grazing animals or the food chain. Not every chemical is broken down, or washed off...especially if it is uptaken systemically. Sometimes the metabolites are more dangerous than the chemical itself.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 6:00PM
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"but when I saw no progress with Natria..."

They make some of the most useless products, but consumers want them. A lot of them are nothing more than canola oil (literaly, like just canola oil and water).

They market them as if they actually work well when the truth is that though many may help, it's overall effectiveness isn't...well, it's not very effective.

I've seen a lot of people burning their plants up using Natria applications with oil in them at improper times as well as pest problems these formulations can't tame...mostly, I've seen people waste a lot of money on things they could mix into a spray bottle themselves.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 6:13PM
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