Jequila
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When to pick cucumbers?

I've got a bush champion cucumber growing on my balcony for the first time, and my first cucumber is getting big :D But how do you know when to pick it? It's only 5 inches long, but is quite thick. I was wondering if the cucumbers might be small because the plant is in a pot? The light stripes are new. Image

imafan26
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Re: When to pick cucumbers?

You could pick them small if you wanted to make pickles but you can wait until they are about 8-12 inches long. The blossom is still on the end and hasn't dropped yet so it has a way to go. Cucumbers on a trellis can get pretty long depending on variety. Mine can get about 18 inches long. When a cucumber gets old the skin turns yellow and mine are less waxy. It will also get fatter and the seeds will be large and the fruit will usually be bitter.
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applestar
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Re: When to pick cucumbers?

Generally speaking, you can wait some more if the fruit is tapered and is thinner at the bottom as this fruit is. When the end of the fruit fills out and is as wide as the top of the fruit, it's about ready to pick, and when the bottom starts to get wider than the stem end, you'd better pick.

Some cucumbers can get REALLY bitter especially on the stem end... Inedible bitter. I think drought stress can make it worse. I try to find varieties that don't do that though. When slicing cucumbers, I find myself sampling the slices from the stem end just to make sure before serving. :wink:
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Re: When to pick cucumbers?

I think bush cucumbers are shorter than other vining cucumbers. If left on the vine too long, they lose flavor and become bitter. Yes, drought when the cukes are just forming and growing fast will make them bitter. I would google the type planted and see what the recommendation is for picking size.
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applestar
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Re: When to pick cucumbers?

Btw bitter cucumbers are good cooked -- stir fries, soups, pasta sauce... Etc.
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imafan26
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Re: When to pick cucumbers?

Variety also matters where bitterness is concerned. I like the English/Japanese and burpless cucumbers because they are less bitter. I only grow Japanese cucumbers for sale now since no one really wants the others.

The parthenocarpic cucumbers can have fat bottoms even when they are young if they get pollinated. Gynoecious and monoecious cucumbers can be oddly shaped if they are not evenly pollinated.

Usually I seed the cucumbers if I am going to use them in salads and when I cut the cucumber, rub the ends with the end pieces. It is supposed to help remove bitterness. I don't know if it really does that but it can't hurt.
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Re: When to pick cucumbers?

"Btw bitter cucumbers are good cooked -- stir fries, soups, pasta sauce... Etc."

Interesting. I have been eating cukes for many years, but always use them raw. Just today I was having the last cuke from my garden this year, and asked, "Wonder if cukes would be any good cooked?" It will have to wait till next season now.
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digitS'
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Re: When to pick cucumbers?

Your cucumber is very close to being ready but it shouldn't have creases. A little more of a cylindrical shape should be gained in just a couple of days.

It would be best to not wait for any color change, although it may become somewhat glossy when it reaches that jus right stage. Don't worry about its prickly spines. New gardeners are sometimes surprised to see those. Supermarket cukes don't have them because they come off in washing and shipping. If you rub that cucumber under the kitchen faucet, the spines will come right off.

As has been said, inadequate pollination will keep some varieties from developing a good shape. The pictured cuke looks like it will be fine. A poorly developed blossom end can be ignored if there are several inches of cucumber above it to be enjoyed.

Steve
who has never cooked a cuke, not even in a canning jar with water, salt and vinegar ;)
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jal_ut
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Re: When to pick cucumbers?

That looks like a pickling variety. They don't get very long. Slicing types get about twice as long.
When to pick? For picklers that you want to put in the bottle whole, pick them small - two to four inches.

If you are going to eat them fresh, I like them filled out pretty well, but not mature. Mature ones get too large of seeds. The bottom line is: They are edible at any size. Pick it when you are hungry for a cuke.

Well............. I have made pickles and processed the jars. Guess that is cooking a cuke? Not quite the same after adding salt and vinegar though............
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Jequila
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Re: When to pick cucumbers?

Thanks guys! There is a leaf obstructing the cuc in the picture to make it look thin at the bottom, but it is actually just as fat as at the top! I had wondered about the spines, so good to know that it's normal. I guess I'll pick in a couple of days and see how it is :)

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Francis Barnswallow
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Re: When to pick cucumbers?

*is jealous*

SVB's destroyed my cukes. Not one cucumber was harvested. :cry:

imafan26
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Re: When to pick cucumbers?

I know how fresh a cucumber is by the spines. If you pick a cucumber and keep it for a day, the spines fall off. They are easy to wash off. I looked up bush champion cucumbers. It said cukes can be 8-12 inches long, so pretty normal sized.
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Jequila
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Re: When to pick cucumbers?

I picked it and it tastes AMAZING. So much better than supermarket cucumbers, I'm hooked.

New question!
I only had 3 female flowers (had MASSES of males though) and this was the only one that matured, despite pollinating them by hand. Now that I've picked it off, will the plant flower again or is it time to pull it out and plant a new one?

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Re: When to pick cucumbers?

My grandmother grew lots of cucumbers for pickles and eating. If she was making Bread & Butter pickle spears she picked them the correct length so the slices would fit into pint mason jars. If she was making Bread & Buttler pickles slices there were lots or random sizes. If she cut them for dinner they were sliced in circles with onions in vinegar. She always picked the cucumbers when the seeds were small.

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digitS'
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Re: When to pick cucumbers?

How is the health of the plant, Jequila?

It must be very early in your growing season. So often, cucumber vines begin suffering from powdery mildew as they age. Any sign of that?

Plants often set fruit and then ripen it. There is that hesitation. If the fruit, and its seeds within, are removed - the plant will begin anew to bloom, set fruit and go about its efforts to develop seeds.

Steve
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Jequila
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Re: When to pick cucumbers?

We're into Spring here in Australia ;) Getting up to 30'C (86'F) this week.
You're right, there was a new flower today so I think it's still good! :) It looks healthy, but I'm sure I'd be more productive if it were in the ground instead of a pot. I live in a unit with no garden though, so this is the best I can do.

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applestar
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Re: When to pick cucumbers?

I think fertilizing with tomato fertilizer could help, and if you expect humid weather which promotes fungal disease, start spraying the plant with milk solution to ward off the fungal issues. When there is no sign of powdery mildew yet, you can just use the 10% solution I believe, though I would increase concentration if any hint of white spots or yellowing is present. Thoroughly wet both top and bottom of the leaves.
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Jequila
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Re: When to pick cucumbers?

Good to know, thanks :) I have never seen powdery mildew on any of my plants, but I will keep an eye out as it gets humid.
Cuc #2 is growing well, but once again all flowers and baby cucs have stopped. Funny how this plant only wants to grow one at a time.

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