Photo by Cornell University
Up With Cukes!
Cucumbers want to climb. Like their kin in the gourd family (squashes, melons) they have long, hairy, branching stems with tendrils that coil around anything they touch, if it’s no thicker than a baseball bat. They will climb a trellis, a chain link fence, or an arbor. Up in the air, the fruits and leaves are less prone to suffer diseases. And the fruits tend to grow straight, helped by gravity.
I grew cukes for several years on a trellis. The frame was two 2 by 4s ten feet tall, anchored two feet in the ground, and two cross bars, one at the top, one near the ground. Inside the 2 by 4 rectangle, I stapled fence wire. The plants (two of them) climbed the trellis to the top and filled in the rectangle with branches, leaves, and fruits (so many that I pinched off young ones so the first fruits could grow larger).
Cucumbers are ancient. They were grown as early as 2,000 B.C. Today they come in many sizes and shapes; long, narrow Asian cucumber, soft-skinned Middle Eastern cucumber that don’t need peeling, even a round, yellow fruit (called ‘Lemon’).
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