Ooks! Cukes!

Have you ever been picking cucumbers and you find this massive yellow cuke that looks inedible and is a candidate for going straight into the compost pile? Then you wonder, “How in the world did I miss this the first time!” One easy way around this dilemma is trellising your cucumbers.  It is, after all, a vine and it saves space in your garden by taking advantage of vertical space.

Using a store-bought trellis works but you can make your own with a little bit of fencing and a couple of steel fence posts.  I like the fence openings big enough that I can put my hand through to reach cucumbers on the other side.  Stay away from fencing that is black or really dark.  On hot summer days, dark fencing absorbs the heat and can burn vines.  I live in a really windy area, so the fencing provides strength that string trellises do not.

Once the vines are about 12 inches tall, I take a bit more time in the garden, tucking the vines’ ends into the fencing. The plants help, too, by developing tendrils (which are modified leaves) that twine around the wire.  With the tendrils, plants are more likely to stay on the fence and less likely to blow off on windy days.

Cucumbers stay cleaner because they are off the ground, leaves have less fungal problems because of better air circulation, space is available to grow more things in the garden, I can tell where to water because I can see where the plants are emerging from the ground, and I’m less likely to miss a cucumber that is ready to be picked.  Trellising provides a lot of rewards for little input. Why not give it a try?

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Kathleen Cue
Horticulture Program Coordinator at Nebraska Extension

Kathleen serves as a Horticulture Program Coordinator. She educates people on making smart plant choices to reduce use of fertilizers and pesticides in their landscape which has a positive impact on air, water, soil and environmental quality, property values and people’s pocketbooks. She provides leadership and coordination of the NE Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties Master Gardener volunteer programs: the Master Gardener Speakers Bureau, and “Ask the Master Gardener” Consultations.


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