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Gardening with Laurie: Try these tips for growing cucumbers

By By Laurie Garretson
Aug. 29, 2013 at 3:29 a.m.


Now that it's fall vegetable planting time, I'm thinking a lot about vegetables to plant. One of the popular varieties to plant this time of year are cucumbers. Cucumbers, along with squash, melons and pumpkins, all belong to the cucurbitaceae family.

Cucumbers originated more than 10,000 years ago in southern Asia. China produces more than two-thirds of the planet's cucumber supply today. Cucumbers are found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as several types of cancer.

They also contain antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. The skin and seeds contain the most benefits for us humans.

Have you ever wondered why cucumbers you buy from most grocery stores are so shiny? Conventional vegetable producers coat their cucumbers with man-made waxes that contain chemical contaminants and sometimes pesticides.

Organic-grown cucumbers will sometimes be coated with a natural wax that is free of unwanted chemical contaminants. This coating is to help keep moisture in the cucumber, to make them look better and to help prevent bruising.

Cucumbers contain the highest water content of any vegetable. More than 95 percent of the flesh of a cucumber is moisture.

Cucumbers are known to cause digestion problems and burping for some. It is thought that both of these problems are caused from an organic compound called cucurbitacin that is in many types of cucumbers. The ends of a cucumber and the skin contain large amounts of this bitter-tasting compound.

There are types of cucumbers that have less bitterness than others, and there are burpless, seedless and long, thin varieties.

When growing cucumbers, keep them well-mulched. This will help to keep moisture in the developing cucumbers. This also helps to produce a sweeter cucumber and reduces the amount of cucurbitacin. Keep the plants well-watered, especially when flowering and fruiting.

Cucumbers are very sensitive to high temperatures, which can affect their quality and cause a high ratio of male flowers. This time of year, find ways to provide shade for your young cucumbers and don't forget the watering. Always scrub cucumbers well before eating.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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