Cucumbers – Seed to Table

Cucumbers are such a cool treat in the hot summer time.  They seem to cool you down, and replenish you. They are very nutritious as well.  They are full of vitamins A, K, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Calcium and Omega 6.

It is not surprising that cucumbers originated in India as they like the heat. This could be one reason that they do so well in Central Texas. They appeared on the scene in North America in the sixteenth century.

Planting Time

First off you need at least 5 hours of sunlight.  Start with good soil emended with well rotted compost and organic fertilizer and sow your seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep and in rows 5-6 feet apart. The soil temperature should be at least 50 degrees for the seed to germinate.  If the soil is colder, the seed will rot. The optimum soil temperature is 80 degrees. The seed will not germinate in soil over 100 degrees.  Make sure all danger of frost is passed before you plant your cucumbers.  If you want to get a jump on things you can start you seedlings 3 to 4 weeks before the last average frost date.  Be careful to give your seedlings room though, as cucumbers do not like to be crowded.  The middle eastern cucumbers do exceptionally well in our area.

Keeping In Production

1. Once cucumber start vining, fertilize with an organic fertilizer like Lady Bug All Purpose Fertilizer  or Buds and Blooms

2. Mulch cucumbers as the roots are shallow and they should be kept moist.  Don’t overwater though.  Let the soil  dry out on the top in between watering or you will get fungal diseases.

  1. Cucumber do very well when trellised or caged.

Harvesting and Storage

Make sure to pick cucumbers before they turn yellow.  The standard goes as follows 2 inches long for pickling cucumbers, 4-6 inches long for dills, 6-8 inches for slicing cukes and burpless should be 1-1/2 inches in diameter and up to 10 inches long. Watch your vines carefully as they need picking every two days.

Cucumbers fresh off the vine have a very short shelf life of about 3 days. Keep them in a plastic bag or a tupperware container.  The cucumbers in the store have wax on them to make them store longer.  You can rub some fresh beeswax on them to make them last longer if you wish.  The best way to preserve them is to pickle them.

Pests and Diseases

Aphids

Cucumber Beetle

Pickleworm

Serpentine Leafminer

Sharpshooter

Spider Mites

Squash Vine Borer

Whiteflies

Anthracnose

Angular Leafspot

Bacterial Wilt

Cucumber Mosaic Virus

Cottony Leak

Downy Mildew

Powdery Mildew

Root-Knot Nematodes

Scab

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Tree Care Workshop

We have a special treat this month for our meeting.  Vincent Debrock from Heritage Tree Care is going to be our guest speaker.  Many people have trees in their yard and do not know how to properly take care of them.  And there has been an ever increasing number of people planting  fruit trees. Come to the meeting at the San Marcos Public Library on Thursday May 20, from 7-8:30 PM and learn about tree care.

Mr. Debrock is a Certified Aborist in San Marcos.  We are very lucky to have someone with such expertise living right here in our community!

He is going to cover such topics as:

  • Gardening/landscaping around Trees
  • Basics of Tree Care
  • Proper Mulching Practices
  • How to Deal with Light Issues and Danger of Thinning a Canopy too Much
  • Source of Stress for Trees and Implications (Susceptibility to Insect and Disease Attacks)
  • Nutrient Contents and Texture of Common Soils of Central Texas
  • Caring for Fruit Trees in Central Texas
  • Question and Answer Session

Please tell your friends and neighbors about this wonderful workshop. We want to show Mr. Debrock our appreciation for coming and speaking!  There will be door prizes at the workshop!

Mint

Well, it has been a long hard winter for us Texans, many of you have been away from your gardens during this unusually harsh season, but the hands of time never stop and thankfully Spring is imminent! What better time to talk about another beloved herb that is especially helpful in the garden during the cooler months? Mint is a very useful plant for many reasons, some you already know and some that you may not be aware of . In this issue we will explore the many uses for this rugged beauty, if you don’t already have it, you will want to get some in your garden stat!

The mint family has about 25 species and hundreds of varieties. Peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint, apple mint, and ginger mint just to name a few.

Cultivation

In general, mints not only tolerate, but thrive in a wide range of conditions. They prefer moist, shaded areas, but will do fine in full sun and drier conditions as well. It really doesn’t get much easier than that! In fact, mint can be downright invasive so that many gardeners omit it from their gardens altogether. However, with a little care, you can enjoy a serious bounty of this special herb without sacrificing order and space for your other garden buddies. Mint grows from rhizomes and sends out runners underground as well as branches that root when they come into contact with soil. To Keep it under control, simply plant it in a bottomless pot and bury in the ground that way. Keep branches trimmed enough to keep them upright by harvesting regularly. When the pot gets overcrowded, dig it up, divide the plant, and give someone else the gift of mint!   For those of you who have empty space that you would like to have filled with hardy, fragrant, flowering beauty, mint is perfect! Mint repels mosquitos, so I suggest you pop some in the ground where there is thick ivy growing since mosquitos LOVE to hang out there.

Pests and Diseases

Mint can be vulnerable to grasshoppers, caterpillars, whiteflies and rust.

Culinary Uses

In the kitchen, mint is widely used in both sweet and savory dishes from ice cream to lamb, with veggies and fruits. It imparts an earthy richness that is both refreshing and delightfully aromatic in all applications from sauces to soups, beverages and desserts. I suggest growing several varieties as you will find exciting uses for them all. Not the least of which will be to flavor refreshing summer drinks like chocolate mojitos, pineapple mint juleps and of course, good ol’ peppermint iced tea!

Medicinal Uses

Mint is commonly used as a digestion aid to relieve everything from gas, to stimulate appetite, and to relieve nausea. The oils can be used as a topical analgesic to relieve pain and increase circulation. When combined with rosemary in vinegar, mint can be used to treat dandruff. And of course, it is your best bet for fighting off bad breath!

Companion Planting

Mint is a great companion herb for brassicas, especially cabbage, as it repels cabbage moths. It also helps improve the health of tomato plants. It also repels ants, flea beetles, rodents, and aphids. Simply place cuttings or dried leaves in affected areas of your home or garden. You can crush the leaves and rub on your skin to repel mosquitos too.